From L to R: Rep. Drew Springer, Rep. J.D. Sheffield, Sen. Donna Campbell, Gov. Greg Abbott,
Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, Rep. Cindy Burkett & Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, at the signing of HB 13
The Special Session called by Governor Greg Abbott is officially over, so how did we do protecting life? Short answer: never in the history of Texas, has the legislature passed so many life-saving, life affirming measures.
Pro-life Texans owe a debt of gratitude to Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Dan Patrick, Speaker Joe Straus, as well as the bill authors and Committee Chairmen like Senator Charles Schwertner and Representative Byron Cook, who helped shepherd most of these bills through their committees and respective chambers.
Here’s a look at what legislators accomplished this year:
Felony ban on partial birth abortions that Texas can enforce (Schwertner, Burkett)
Ban on dismemberment abortions (Klick, Perry)
Ban on sale, donation or research of fetal remains from elective abortion (Schwertner, Burkett)
Humane disposition of fetal remains required (Cook)
Felony ban on forced abortion in connection with sex trafficking (Burns, Buckingham)
Clinics required to post sex trafficking hotline in restrooms (Burns, Buckingham)
Alternatives to Abortion fund doubled
Conscience protection for foster families not wanting to assist with abortion (Frank, Perry)
IVF patients to be informed of embryo adoption options (Raney, Perry)
Hospitals required to report abortion complications apart from maternal health complications (Capriglione, Campbell)
Ban on insurance coverage of abortion (Smithee, Creighton)
Expanded reporting of minors’ abortions (Murphy, Hughes)
DNR reform to protect patients’ rights (Perry, G. Bonnen)
Maternal Health Task Force Renewed (Burkett, Kolkhorst)
Several of the items passed in the Regular session addressed the horrors revealed in the expose videos produced by the Center for Medical Progress. Those videos raised grave concerns about the likelihood of illegal partial birth abortions being performed in Texas and the illegal selling of baby body parts. After interim hearings by Representative Byron Cook and Senator Charles Schwertner, SB 8 made the partial birth abortion ban a felony that the state could prosecute; banned the sale, donation or research of fetal remains, and mandated the humane disposition of fetal remains. The dismemberment ban was amended onto the bill on the House Floor by Representative Klick, also aimed at ending the gruesome practice. Humane disposition means burial or cremation—no more dumping our tiniest babies in dumpsters, landfills or garbage disposals. To keep the cost down and mitigate any legal challenges, the Texas Catholic Bishops led the way to the creation of a state registry, committing to free burial and cremation for all the babies. One of the states’ most notorious late-term abortion doctors subsequently retired!
You may have also seen the UT study out earlier this year, which cited an estimated 79,000 sexually trafficked minors in Texas. Obviously, these young girls are getting pregnant, and to make matters worse, stories of them being forced into abortion to keep working. After HB 2858 by Representative DeWayne Burns died in the chubbing, he successfully amended the heart of it onto HB 2552, the omnibus bill aimed at ending the practice.
Even foster care reform had a pro-life theme, with HB 3859, which provides conscience protections for foster care agencies and parents who do not wish to assist with minors getting abortions.
Once again, the budget passed by the legislature restricted any funding to Planned Parenthood and increased (doubled!) funding to the Alternatives to Abortion program.
A few bills stalled in the Regular, and a few, like the bill to end local government contracts with Planned Parenthood, suffered “death by chubbing.” That particular bill also died in the Special Session, but as you can see, all the other bills passed handily.
Texas already has the second lowest abortion rate among the 10 most populous states, having cut our rate of abortions per 1,000 women by two-thirds. Today, the future is looking even more pro-life, thanks in large part to a Texas GOP working to keep its promise to protect moms and babies.