On Tuesday, hundreds of activists from across the state rallied in front of the state Capitol in support of House Bill 3326 and House Bill 3641, authored by Rep. Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City), which call for the abolition of abortion and to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade.
Slaton told Texas Scorecard, “I filed the only abolish abortion bill, the only bill in the state of Texas that would actually stop abortions in this year, 2021.“ When asked about his motivation for filing the bills, he said, “We want to be ruled by laws passed through the Legislature, not by a ruling from the Supreme Court.”
Several speakers took turns describing the importance of the moment and where the pro-life movement has brought us since the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade and subsequent rulings.
“For 48 years, the pro-life movement has been saying that a fetus is a person and that Roe V. Wade is unconstitutional,” Bradley Pierce, executive director of Abolish Abortion Texas, explained. “However, none of the pro-life bills passed over the last 48 years has acted consistently with these claims. No pro-life bill has treated a fetus as a person by providing them with equal protection of the laws as required by the 14th Amendment.”
“Since a fetus is a person, HB 3326 provides them the equal protection of the same laws that protect born people,” he added.
Status of the Bills
Similar bills have been filed in previous legislative sessions by State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington). During the 86th Legislative Session (2019), he filed House Bill 896, which was heard in the House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee but never voted on. In the 85th Legislative Session (2017), he filed House Bill 948, which was referred to the House State Affairs Committee but never granted a hearing.
Republican Party of Texas Priority
The abolition of abortion is one of the legislative priorities of the Republican Party of Texas. Specifically, the priority calls upon the 87th Legislature to “abolish abortion by ensuring the right to life and equal protection of the laws to all preborn children from the moment of fertilization.”
The Republican Party of Texas platform states, “Since life begins at conception, we urge the Texas Legislature to abolish abortion through enacting legislation that would immediately secure the rights to life and would ignore or refuse to enforce any and all federal statutes, regulations, orders, and court rulings that would deny these rights.”
Slaton says that’s all the more reason for the Republican Legislature to pass the bill.
“The frustrating thing is this is a GOP party platform item. This is an issue that all Republicans campaign on, and the idea of equal protection under the law. The GOP legislative priority says that,” said Slaton. “Unfortunately, as I talk to members, they like to take up the Democrats’ talking point against the bill … they want to bring up the issues the Democrats bring up, which isn’t the intent of the bill. The intent is to protect babies in the womb.”
The Issue of “Life” in This Legislative Session
The Texas Senate passed out a series of seven bills related to abortion on Tuesday, which included bills like Senate Bill 8, or the “heartbeat bill,” authored by State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R–Mineola) and Senate Bill 9, authored by State Sen. Angela Paxton (R–McKinney), which is the prohibition of abortion in the event that the U.S. Supreme Court Decision Roe v. Wade is overturned. This package of bills also included Senate Bill 1173, authored by State Sen. Kelly Hancock (R–North Richland Hills), which would stop discriminatory abortions because of their race or gender.
Thus far, the House of Representatives has not heard or prioritized any bills related to abortion.