For years Texans have taken pride in the state being at the forefront of conservative policy. And perhaps nowhere was that on greater display than the passage of pro-life reforms.
When Rick Perry was governor, Texas routinely led the nation in passing pro-life laws such as the sonogram law. And when the Texas Legislature failed to pass life-saving legislation across the finish line during the regular session, Perry would call them back for a special session.
In 2013, Perry called multiple special sessions to ensure Texas passed legislation which required abortion clinics to have admittance privileges to hospitals, have hospital-like standards, and ban abortions after 20 weeks.
The fight over the bill made nationwide news and eventually culminated in the Supreme Court striking down portions of the bill on a 5-3 vote, with Justice Kennedy as the deciding justice. Once the opinion was issued, only the 20-week ban was left standing.
But is Texas still a leader in the fight to protect the unborn?
Thus far this year, nine states passed new bans on abortion: Two states banned after 18 weeks, one state banned after eight weeks, five states banned after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, and Alabama most famously criminalized elective abortion entirely.
Texas, meanwhile, failed to pass a single life-saving pro-life bill.
The problem wasn’t a lack of ideas. House Bill 1500 by State Rep. Briscoe Cain (R–Baytown) would have banned abortions after a heartbeat is detected, and House Bill 896 by State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington) would have completely criminalized abortion. Both were filed in the Texas House, but they were waylaid in committee and did not advance. Meanwhile, neither pro-life priority was even filed in the Texas Senate.
Likewise, a bill closing existing loopholes that allow late-term abortions for children diagnosed with fetal abnormalities also died in the legislature.
Many pro-life Texans point to the state’s current leaders, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, who, purportedly worried about having a controversial session and angering Democrat or Independent voters, worked behind the scenes to prevent the passage of such legislation.
But if lawmakers fear the state might tilt in a more Democrat direction in the coming election, wouldn’t now be the time for conservatives to pass their reforms? Wouldn’t it be better to do it now, since the next session isn’t guaranteed to be led by Republicans?
That’s the concept that conservatives in Georgia followed. There, Republicans maintained their hold on the governor’s mansion by just over 50,000 votes, defeating Bernie Sanders-backed Stacey Abrams in 2018 by less than 2 percent—yet they rallied around and passed a fetal heartbeat ban.
For reference, Gov. Greg Abbott won in 2018 by 13.5 percent. Lt. Gov Dan Patrick won by a little under 5 percent.
Look at Alabama, which in 2017 elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate, passed a bill abolishing abortion. For reference, Sen. Ted Cruz still won his Senate seat in 2018.
Louisiana legislators passed their fetal heartbeat ban with bipartisan support. In fact, the bill was authored by a Democrat and signed by the state’s Democrat governor.
What is the Lone Star State’s excuse for falling behind in the fight to save the unborn?