After a showdown in the Texas House last session over ending a loophole that allows abortions in the third trimester, the fight to end discriminatory, late-term abortions in Texas has resurfaced in the 86th Legislature.

Republican lawmakers State Sen. Kelly Hancock (North Richland Hills) and State Rep. Matt Schaefer (Tyler) have teamed up to put end to the practice with identical bills in their respective chambers, Senate Bill 1033 and House Bill 2434. The bills have been given the title of “The Preborn Non-Discrimination Act,” or “PreNDA” for short.

“All life is a gift to be cherished,” Hancock told Texas Scorecard.

“The very idea of discriminating against a little boy or girl on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, or diagnosis of a disability before they’re even born is unthinkable, yet it happens,” he added. “Texas can’t allow that any longer.”

Hancock is joined by nine other Republican authors and coauthors on the Senate version of the bill.

Schaefer already has 13 House colleagues signed on as coauthors in support of HB 2434. Schaefer was the author of an amendment to Senate Bill 8 in 2017, which would have ended the practice in similar fashion to his standalone bill this session; however, that measure was defeated on the House floor. The record vote was 72 Yeas, 65 Nays, and three members present but not voting on the motion.

The issue became a defining vote during the ensuing Republican primary elections, and many lawmakers have since reconsidered their positions on the issue, meaning there may be enough votes to pass the legislation this time around.

According to Schaefer, the legislation not only ends the horrific practice of late-term abortion in Texas for good, but also requires that the women be provided with informational material regarding comprehensive and supportive care to reduce the suffering of mothers, their preborn children, and their families.

“A life is a life, no matter how small, no matter how sick,” Schaefer said. “The hands of a doctor are for comfort and healing, not killing.”

Despite a wide-ranging number of pro-life bills already filed ahead of the quickly approaching March 8 bill-filing deadline—including legislation like HB 1500 by State Rep. Briscoe Cain (R–Deer Park) which would make abortion after 12 weeks illegal in Texas, or HB 896 by State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington) which would outlaw them entirely—Texas Right to Life has called PreNDA its “top legislative priority.”

Texas Right to Life says the bill’s timing is appropriate “in contrast with recent extreme actions in other parts of the country,” referring to legislation that has passed in states both expanding protections for the unborn (such as Iowa and Ohio) and in states further allowing abortions to take place, even after the baby has been delivered alive (such as New York and Virginia).

“Preborn children deserve protection from late-term abortions and deadly discrimination,” said Elizabeth Graham, the organization’s director. “New York and Virginia do not speak for the rest of the nation, and this is an appropriate step to affirming the Right to Life of all preborn children.”

Despite the heavy focus on legislation to reform the state’s property tax and school finance system by top leaders, members of the Texas Legislature seem to have not been deterred from filing bills to address defending the unborn and other social issues this session.

“I don’t think protecting unborn children should take a back seat to any other issue,” said Cain. His bill, HB 1500, or “The Texas Heartbeat Bill,” has 60 authors and coauthors, nearing the 76-vote majority needed to clear the Texas House.

“Protecting every innocent human life should always be a priority for lawmakers in Texas, regardless of the political winds of the day.”

 

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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