Outshining the U.S. Congress, on Monday the Texas Senate passed a measure strengthening legal protections afforded to infant children born alive following a botched abortion.

Despite outcry from abortion activists and advocates, Senate Republicans stood in solidarity, and were joined by Democrat State Sens. Eddie Lucio of Brownsville and Judith Zaffirini of Laredo, to pass Senate Bill 23 with 20 ayes.

Amazingly, 10 Democrats went on the record in support of infanticide by opposing the legislation.

The bill, authored by State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R–Brenham), expands protections for children born alive following an abortion that has failed to take the infant’s life, necessitating a patient-doctor relationship be established immediately and the life-saving or sustaining care be administered immediately. The bill also establishes a criminal penalty of no less than $100,000 against doctors who provide such care.

The U.S. Senate failed to pass legislation on the federal level earlier this year, neglecting to find the 60 votes needed to do so. The final vote was 53-44, with three Democrats voting in support of the bill and three Republicans failing to make it back to the Capitol in time to vote on the bill.

A similar bill in the Texas House, though not identical, passed out of the Committee on Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence last week. The meeting and subsequent hearing on House Bill 16 received statewide attention when the committee’s four Democrats staged a walk-out to break quorum, while Republican member State Rep. Morgan Meyer was unable to attend due to a flight delay from his home in Highland Park near Dallas.

The bill eventually passed with bipartisan support, however: 6 ayes to 3 nays due to Dallas Democrat State Rep. Victoria Neave crossing over and voting with Republicans.

The House version now has 80 authors and coauthors, more than the amount necessary to pass it out of the lower chamber.

Kolkhorst’s bill is the second of three pieces of pro-life legislation being prioritized by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Senate Republicans. The first, SB 22, a bill authored by Republican State Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) that would prevent local governments from contracting with or providing tax dollars to abortion providers, passed out of the body last week.

SB 23 currently has 14 Senate authors and coauthors, including the pivotal support of Lucio, who helped pass SB 22 citing his Roman Catholic faith for crossing party lines to do so.

Lucio has been instrumental in getting some of Patrick’s priorities off the floor, particularly bills finding the opposition of rogue Republican Sen. Kel Seliger (Amarillo), who has continually defied Republican leadership in supporting the party’s priority legislation.

The Senate is expected to take up and consider the bill for third reading on final passage tomorrow.

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.