Speaker Straus is NOT Pro-Life
When the leading abortion provider in the country, Planned Parenthood, honors Texas House Speaker Joe Straus in their fall 2009 newsletter, Horizon, for “his tireless efforts on behalf of Texas women and children during the last legislative session,” it explains why every pro-life bill was killed during the session. (It is further explained by the fact that Speaker Straus received a 100% rating by the radical pro-abortion group NARAL, and that he even voted in support of third-trimester abortions (SB 419, vote 672, 2005).)
Some have attempted to defend Speaker Straus on this issue, claiming that it was really a single legislator who missed one committee meeting that was actually responsible for killing the pro-life agenda in the past session (including the sonogram bill filed by Rep. Frank Corte). That is nonsense – especially when the legislator they are trying to blame is former Speaker Tom Craddick, who has a proven life-long pro-life voting record. Craddick’s pro-life credentials are irrefutable.
Significantly, when Tom Craddick was Speaker in 2003, Rep. Frank Corte filed HB 15 to regulate abortion. It passed the House early in the session on April 30, was sent to the Senate, finally passed, and sent to Gov. Perry for signing.
By contrast, in this session under Speaker Joe Straus, Rep. Frank Corte filed HB 36 to require a sonogram before an abortion. The Straus-appointed State Affairs Committee Chairman Burt Solomons held a public hearing for HB 36 on April 21 – a full seven weeks after Rep. Corte formally requested it. The bill was left pending in committee, which was not necessarily unusual, but what was unusual was that Chairman Solomons held additional formal meetings on April 23, 27, 28, 30 and on May 5, 6 (twice) and 8, but still refused to take any action on pro-life bill HB 36.
With time running out in the session, it became imperative that Senator Dan Patrick’s companion bill (SB 182) move through the Senate in order to force the House to act. After passing the Senate on May 1st, the bill was received in the House on May 4th. It could have been acted upon quickly, but instead it went an entire week before being read the first time and referred to the House Committee on State Affairs – the same unfriendly committee where the companion pro-life bill was being bottled up. Although House author Rep. Corte submitted a letter on May 12 requesting a public hearing for SB 182, it took yet another week before it was considered, substituted, and reported favorably from the committee.
Finally on May 22, SB 182 was sent to the House Committee on Calendars and placed on the House Major State Calendar for May 24 – very near the end of the legislative session. The Democrat “chubbing” (a term used for filibustering) was used to run out the clock for the session and kill that pro-life bill, along with dozens of other bills. Significantly, early in the session, Speaker Straus had been specifically warned by pro-life leaders about the potential “chubbing” tactic by Democrats and was therefore urged to get the bill to the floor early in the session, as had been done with pro-life bills in previous sessions, but Speaker Straus ignored those warnings.
Speaker Straus, with his public pro-abortion position, is out of step on the issue of life according to a Gallop poll that shows that the majority of Americans are pro-life. And exit polling on Election Day similarly showed that a majority of Americans believe that our country is on the wrong track because of a decline of moral and family values, adding that they wanted to end abortion-on-demand. On November 2nd, voters proved that former President Ronald Reagan’s three legged stool of fiscal and social conservatism and a strong national defense is very much alive. It is time for Representatives to elect a new pro-life conservative House Speaker who represents the values not only of most legislators but also of the overwhelming majority of Texas voters.