With the Texas Legislature about halfway through its 140-day session, many Texans are wondering the status of pro-life legislation. Working with pro-life organizations, Texas Scorecard has the following update:
A priority in the Republican Party of Texas platform, abolishing abortion has been a major issue this legislative session.
Current efforts center on HB 948 by State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington), which would effectively abolish the practice by protecting the rights of unborn children from the moment of conception.
Banning Dismemberment Abortion
Dismemberment abortion refers “a procedure that ends the life of an unborn child by removing his or her limbs while his or her heart is still beating.”
Passing through the Senate 22-9 with the support of all Republicans and two Democratic Senators, State Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) and State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. (D-Brownsville), the legislation is now languishing in State Rep. Byron Cook’s (R-Corsicana) State Affairs Committee.
Pro-Life Health Insurance Reform
SB 20 by State Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) passed through the Senate 19-10. State Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) was absent. The companion bill in the House is sponsored by State Rep. John Smithee (R-Amarillo) and is also currently located in State Rep. Byron Cook’s State Affairs Committee.
The bill would “affirm Texas’ right to prohibit coverage for abortion offered through the federally mandated exchange, except for medical emergencies.” A similar version of this bill has already passed in 25 other states in the nation. If passed, there would be no restrictions on individuals from purchasing an optional coverage plan for an abortion.
The Senate’s Business and Commerce Committee passed the bill with a 7-1 margin.
Repeal and Replace Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA)
Currently, Texas law allows for Hospital Ethics Committees to withdraw life-sustaining treatment from patients against their wishes, any other kind of documented wish or request such as an advanced directive, medical powers of attorneys, and families.
A proposal by State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R–Mineola) would address that by requiring the hospital or medical facility to continue treating a patient, until the hospital finds a facility to which they can transfer the individual.
There is currently a companion bill in the House, HB 4090. Hughes’ legislation is currently awaiting a vote in State Sen. Joan Huffman’s (R–Southside Place) Senate State Affairs Committee.
Disabled Preborn Justice Act
While Texas law prevents abortion after 20 weeks, a loophole in the law currently provides an exception for babies with fetal abnormalities.
Authored by State Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-Fort Worth,) SB 1427 closes that loophole and promotes a “compassionate alternative” to families in such situations, such as access to perinatal hospice networks across the state. Texas Right to Life argues that such services are the appropriate response to a devastating diagnosis (though many of the diagnoses are incorrect) as opposed to an abortion.
Neither Hancock’s legislation nor a companion bill by State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler,) have received a hearing in either chamber.
Defunding Planned Parenthood
On the long night of delegation over the budget in the Texas House, State Rep. Matt Rinaldi’s (R-Irving) amendment, that would completely and outright stop Texas taxpayer dollars from funding Planned Parenthood, passed in a 93-52 vote.
The amendment would prevent the over $500,000 that Planned Parenthood had been receiving over the course of the last few fiscal years.
The amendment, along with the entirety of the budget, will now move to the Senate for deliberation and consideration.