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Why favor incumbents?

As National Right to Life pointed out years ago in “How to be a Smart Pro-Life Voter in 1998,” the Right to Life issue is the core issue of the election.

Back then, there was an effort by liberals to categorize the Life issue as one of many social justice issues that flowed together as a “seamless garment,” essentially weighting all of the issues equally. National Right to Life’s response was, “The right to life is the core fabric of any ‘seamless garment’ of social justice, not a hem or a sleeve or a decoration. Without the right to life, the seamless garment of social justice is in shreds.” Today, it is conservatives who often try to reduce this core issue to one of a long list of boxes to be checked off on the conservative list. Yet, it remains true that the right to life issue cannot be reduced to one of many issues on a list—it is still the core issue. When we win, babies live and moms win. When we lose, babies die and no one wins. When the state fails to protect innocent life, we are all at risk. In Texas, pro-life voters take seriously our duty to protect life by voting pro-life. Because there are a lot of us, we are reaping the rewards. Incremental gains to protect moms and babies in Texas have made us the envy of the nation. And in just four short years, over 50,000 babies have been saved. . . enough to more than fill the Globe Life Park in Arlington.

Texas has defunded Planned Parenthood, passed a comprehensive sonogram law, passed the Choose Life License Plates (funding adoption counseling), appropriated growing sums for abortion alternatives, passed HB 2, reformed the parental consent law—and more. We could not have been successful without pro-life leadership in both chambers, and that includes our friend, Speaker of the House, Joe Straus. A very important part of voting pro-life also means, as National Right to Life noted, “Pro-life voters must reward pro-life incumbents.” (emphasis theirs) Why? The answer is the same as it was in 1998: “If pro-lifers want officeholders who reliably vote for pro-life legislation and actively support and implement it, then they, in turn, must be reliable supporters of such incumbents at election time. Loyalty goes both ways.” First, it is harder to pass prolife legislation because legislators in Texas face enemy fire from pro-abortion advocates and lawmakers, as well as friendly fire from pro-life advocates who often disagree on strategy or prioritization. They often face opposition in their districts, too, not to mention threats and abusive behavior.

Surely you saw the mammoth fight over HB 2. But you may not realize that lawmakers, especially women, were harassed and even had their lives and the lives of family members threatened. Even when the Capitol hadn’t yet been flooded by paid opposition, it was hard. And it is hard every time. The whole system is intentionally designed to limit the number of bills passed, and many who oppose us know how to exploit that. Second, while many members are able to approach bills in a bi-partisan way to help pass bills, pro-life legislation often creates deep wedges between lawmakers, limiting their ability to work together on bills they need for their districts back home. In short, pro-life lawmakers stick their necks out for us and the babies in a big way, and we owe them our loyalty. It’s not enough for a challenger to say he or she is more pro-life. It is important that we stick with those who have been delivering for us all along. The candidates we endorse are frequently incumbents who have a record of working and voting with us and the ability to help us pass life-saving legislation. We humbly ask you to stand with us in supporting incumbents who have courageously recognized and defended the core right to life issue, making possible our recent victories. Now, more than ever, we need Smart Pro-Life Voters to remain loyal to incumbents so that more victories for babies and their moms will be celebrated in the years to come.


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