With Time Running Short, Pro-Life Reforms Moving Forward in Special Session

With pro-life Republican Governor Abbott at the helm, and pro-life Republicans Joe Straus and Dan Patrick leading in the House and Senate, Texas continues to set the standard for protecting the unborn.

Nationally, abortion numbers have been in a downward trend for several years, even in blue states. In Texas, however, results have been dramatic. Annual abortions in Texas are at the 1977 level, even as our population has more than doubled. Our rate per 1,000 women has decreased from 29.2 to 9.5, compared to a national rate of 14.6.

This past spring saw another banner session for pro-lifers, as lawmakers passed SB 8, an omnibus bill that includes a state ban on partial birth abortion (critically important for enforcement and includes higher penalties), a ban on fetal tissue research and/or sale, a ban on dismemberment abortions and provides for humane disposition of fetal remains. The legislature also passed an omnibus anti-sex-trafficking bill which includes an amendment creating a felony offense for coerced abortion by human traffickers. HB 3859 was also passed, protecting foster parents who do not wish to assist with obtaining abortions for minors in their care. The fund to support organizations providing alternatives to abortion was doubled.

Adding to our excitement, Governor Abbott added five measures to his proclamation calling for a special session. As we move into the final third of the special session, I am happy to report that the Senate has passed all five measures, and the House is on track to do so, as well! Here are the five items and where they stand:

Improved Reporting of Abortion Complications (HB 13 Capriglione, SB 10 Campbell) Requires HOSPITALS (where most complications are treated) to report abortion complications accurately—as complications of abortion and not complications of maternal health, as has been the practice. Accurate data is essential to defending pro-life legislation and determining best policies to protect moms. This bill has passed in both chambers in slightly different versions, and is expected to finally pass in the Senate this week.

Improved Reporting of Minor Abortions (SB 73 Hughes, HB 215 Murphy) Requires abortion doctors to report how consent was granted before a minor received abortion. The doctor must designate the minor was emancipated, a judicial bypass was granted, a parent properly consented or the abortion was performed on an emergency basis to save the mother’s life with no opportunity to obtain consent beforehand. Better data means better data for policy and legislative efforts in the future. The bill has passed both chambers.

Insurance Reform (SB 8 Creighton, HB 214 Smithee) Respects the conscience of millions of pro-life Texans by ensuring we are not subsidizing abortion through federal, state or private coverage. While ObamaCare is not supposed to provide abortion coverage, it sometimes does. State employee policies do not include abortion coverage, and that policy would be codified into law.  Those seeking private coverage would be required to purchase a separate rider. The bill has passed in the Senate and is expected to pass the House Tuesday, August 8th.

Ban on Local Government Contracts with Abortion Providers or Affiliates Underwriters typically determine at what premium to write a policy for a company. (HB 14 Springer, SB 4 Schwertner) Prevents Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from circumventing the legislature by seeking creative contracts with local governing agencies. The bill has passed the Senate, and is on its way to calendars committee in the House. 

DNR Reform (SB 11 Perry, HB 12 Bonnen) Protects patient autonomy by prohibiting Do Not Resuscitate Orders without the patient’s or surrogate’s consent. The bill passed the Senate, but stakeholder negotiations in the House have been intense. An agreement appears to be at hand, and the bill is likely to pass the House this week.

As you can see, Republican lawmakers in Texas have been working hard to save lives since 2011 after claiming large majorities in both chambers. In addition to the top three Republicans, we owe many thanks to committee chairmen (Rep. Byron Cook and Sen. Charles Schwertner), bill authors, joint authors and coauthors. 

Over 50,000 babies have been saved since then, and some of them started kindergarten last fall.  Get ready for even more celebrating this fall!

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