AUSTIN (ChurchMilitant.com) - Key Texas Republicans are not making the murder of innocent children by abortion a priority as the legislature sets to close through 2019.
Texas Right to Life (TRL) and other pro-life advocates are insisting the state legislature pass pro-life laws before the end of its 85th session on May 29, making this the last opportunity for two years to save the lives of unborn children in the state.
The strongest bill being proposed is House Bill 844 (HB 844) banning gruesome dismemberment abortions, where babies in the womb are killed by being torn apart limb from limb. The bill was passed by the Texas senate as Senate Bill 415 (SB 415) and was part of the 2016 Republican Party platform, garnering the most support from party delegates of any current pro-life legislation.
Although it has strong support among many house Republicans and potentially has enough votes to pass, it is being killed by Byron Cook, who ran for office as a pro-life Republican and is the chairman of the Texas House State Affairs Committee. According to John Seago, TRL's legislative director, Cook told the bill's author, Rep. Stephanie Klick, that he won't allow the bill a chance to be voted on.
Seago told Church Militant Cook doesn't support the bill because he feels it's unconstitutional. He adds that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton doesn't feel that way and is actually arguing for a similar bill in Alabama. He also added that another pro-life group, Texas Alliance for Life, helped convince Cook to scrap the bill, alleging that it's too risky and controversial.
Cook also killed House Bill 1113 (HB 1113), called the Pro-Life Health Insurance Reform, which would prohibit insurance companies from paying for elective abortions.
Texas Right to Life comments:
Instead of helping pass pro-life laws that actually reduce the number of abortions in Texas, undermine Roe v. Wade and focus the cultural conversation on the humanity of the unborn (three necessary principles that guide Texas Right to Life's policy stances), Byron Cook is prioritizing weak legislation for political cover during re-election efforts, ignoring substantial pro-life policies that would actually save innocent lives.
Cook is supporting some pro-life bills, but TRL considers them "weak" and "fake bills" that are "ineffective or non-priority." It goes so far as to call them "detrimental to the pro-life movement."
Advocates of HB 844 are still attempting to get the legislation passed by getting them appended to other legislation. It is, however, a riskier tactic because it's easier for them to fail.
The lack of Republican enthusiasm to pass strong pro-life legislation is even more troubling in light of other seemingly trivial legislation they are considering:
"Leadership is preparing 'But we ran out of time' excuses for campaign season," remarked Emily Horne of TRL. "Seeking re-election, Republican-In-Name-Only (RINO) members will attempt to convince voters that there were simply not enough days in the session to address important issues."
"RINO politicians will claim they were only able to pass weak pro-life bills because stronger, life-saving bills were left in committee or placed disingenuously on dead calendars," she continued.
Seago commented that the dismemberment ban can be passed, but it will not be with the assistance of key pro-life Republicans like Cook. If passed, it will be passed in spite of their efforts against it. He said that Republicans Matt Rinaldi and Matt Schaefer "are working non-stop on the floor, and if we get any pro-life victories through amendments, it will be because of their hard work."
He added that House Bill 2063 (HB 2063) is getting traction and has a good chance of getting passed. Currently, in Texas, doctors are allowed to impose Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders on patients without their knowledge or consent. The bill would require doctors to obtain the consent of the patient or someone who can legally speak for him. He added that pro-life advocates had to "work around" Cook in order to get it to the floor for a vote.
Seago is asking Texans to contact their representatives and let them know they support HB 844 and HB 2063, reminding people that the lives of more than 100,000 unborn Texans hang in the balance.