Many pro-life bills have already had their fate sealed for the 86th Legislature and more will find theirs by the end of the week, but at least one will be alive.

Tuesday, the Texas Senate approved a bill to close the loophole allowing the last of late-term abortions in Texas, but its House companion has already been killed once this session.

Senate Bill 1033, the Pre-born Non-Discrimination Act (PreNDA), authored by Republican State Sen. Kelly Hancock (North Richland Hills) is a bill that spurred the controversial debate among lawmakers about the exceptions the state has over late-term abortions that became a prominent feature in many Republican primaries last March.

According to Texas Right to Life, the bill would accomplish the following:

  • End the remaining late-term abortions in Texas;
  • Prohibit abortions committed against pre-born children for discriminatory reasons, such as the child’s sex, race, or suspected disability; and
  • Provide information about life-affirming social and medical services to families whose pre-born children are diagnosed with life-limiting disabilities.

The bill passed with an affirming vote from every Republican member and Democrat State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. (Brownsville) to clear the Texas Senate in a 20-11 vote.

Its companion bill rotted away in the House State Affairs Committee, chaired by State Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont). House Bill 2434 by State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R–Tyler) received a public hearing that lasted late into the following morning. The testimony from countless pro-life advocates who stayed in the Capitol to speak in favor of the bill was given in vain, because the bill later died in committee.

But with the Senate version of the legislation coming over to the House, the bill has a second chance at life.

With pro-life bills having been slow-walked or killed outright in three different committees—Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence, Public Health, and State Affairs—there may not be a “best” landing spot for the bill in the Republican-majority Texas House. But if House Speaker Dennis Bonnen exercises his power as speaker in alignment with his professed pro-life principles, he can find a way to ensure the legislation reaches the floor for a vote.

The Texas House has mostly balked at passing pro-life bills this session, a development that perplexes pro-life advocates who recall successes for pro-life causes even under former House Speaker Joe Straus.

With 2020 on the horizon, it’s been said in the Capitol that leadership would prefer not to engage in “controversial” issues like the Second Amendment or protecting the unborn for fear of being criticized by Democrats and the mainstream media on the general election campaign trail.

But what clearer contrast could voters have than forcing Democrats into opposing bills offering reasonable measures to protect life? Will Bonnen allow Democrats to go on record with their devout commitment to abortion, even on the basis of discrimination and at any point between conception and delivery?

Hancock did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the progress of the bill or its fate in the Texas House, but retweeted several posts celebrating the legislation’s passage Tuesday.

If Hancock and other pro-life advocates want to see the bill signed on Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk come sine die, they should reach out to Speaker Bonnen.

Destin Sensky

Destin Sensky serves as a Capitol Correspondent for Texas Scorecard covering the Texas Legislature, working to bring Texans the honest and accurate coverage they need to hold their elected officials in Austin accountable.

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