Tuesday, May 2, 2017

#TXLEGE: House Leadership (predictably) dragging feet on pro-Life bills....

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah 1:5

Texas Right to Life held a press conference this morning; we didn't attend, but they posted the video:

The Statesman has more:
“Unfortunately, session after session, the Texas House of Representatives has not prioritized pro-life bills,” he said “We’ve prioritized the budget, CPS, education, an Uber bill — all things that are important, but none of which are as important as saving the lives of preborn babies.”

Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, noted that the House had only nine voting days left to pass House bills, and legislation placed on the final days’ calendars rarely comes up for a vote, particularly if legislators begin delaying tactics to kill late-calendar bills they oppose.

“That’s why you sense the urgency in what we’re doing today,” Krause said.

Schaefer said he and others will ask Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special session if abortion-related regulations are not passed by session’s end on May 29.

While the Senate has passed a number of abortion regulations, “no legislation touching abortion has made its way through the Texas House of Representatives yet,” said Emily Cook, political director for Texas Right to Life. 

In particular, she said, Right to Life’s top priority — dubbed the “dismemberment abortion” ban, which would place limits on second-trimester “dilation and evacuation” abortions — has been given unsatisfactory treatment in the House, where a Senate-passed bill has not yet been referred to a committee to begin action. Another measure, which would ban abortion coverage in private insurance plans as well as plans offered to state employees and participants in the Affordable Care Act, has a House committee hearing Wednesday and must be voted out by Friday to meet House deadlines.
From Texas Right to Life:
While many bills are marketed as “Pro-Life,” only substantive Pro-Life bills will save lives. With merely 27 days remaining in the 85th Legislative Session, the Texas House has not passed any Pro-Life bills. The Texas Senate has passed multiple Pro-Life bills including Senate Bill 415, the Dismemberment Abortion Ban, and Senate Bill 20, Pro-Life Health Insurance Reform.

If life-saving bills are not passed in the final days of the legislative session, more than 100,000 lives will be lost to abortion before the Texas Legislature meets again. Only two of Texas Right to Life’s priority bills have been heard in House committees (House Bill 2063 and House Bill 1113). All House bills must be voted out of committee by Monday, May 8, and passed on the House floor by Thursday, May 11. As we have seen in previous sessions, leaving important Pro-Life legislation to the final days and hours allows anti-Life Democrats to chub, ensuring the clock runs out on life-saving reforms.

As John Seago, Legislative Director for Texas Right to Life, explained, “The concern over fetal tissue donation and research or the legislation that imposes burial and cremation regulations on abortion clinics fundamentally miss the mark. These policies merely debate what to do with the body of the child after he or she dies. The Pro-Life movement in Texas must prioritize legislation that will stop the injustice of elective abortion from occurring in the first place.”

Texas Right to Life joins other conservative groups in calling attention to the neglect of priority legislation by representatives who call themselves “Pro-Life.” The greatest priority this session is passing the Dismemberment Abortion Ban, which would outlaw the inhumane practice of killing a preborn child in the womb by tearing her limb from limb while her heart is still beating. Senate Bill 415 passed on March 20 winning bipartisan support with Democrat Senators Lucio and Zaffirini voting for the bill.

In addition to passage in the Senate, Texas Right to Life’s priority legislation has far-reaching support. The Dismemberment Abortion Ban received support from 95% of the voting delegates at the Republican Party of Texas convention (more than 8,000 activists voted for the policy), making the proposal the most popular Pro-Life policy plank in the 2016 Republican Party Platform. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton indicated support for the life-saving legislation in joining the amicus brief defending the constitutionality of Alabama’s Dismemberment Abortion Ban. Furthermore, the House version of the Dismemberment Abortion Ban, House Bill 844 by Representative Stephanie Klick, has 67 coauthors.

Texas Right to Life General Counsel Emily Cook stated, “Texas used to be within the top five of Pro-Life states in the nation; we are now ranked 17th. With 95 Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives, passing conservative legislation should not be this difficult.”
Read the full statesman report here; read the full Right to Life Press release here.

Bottom Line: We expect them to pass something they can call 'pro-life' on the campaign trail, but it's an open question whether what they pass will have any teeth.

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