In conjunction with the 2017 Pro-Life Scorecard for the Regular and Special Sessions of the 85th Texas Legislature, Texas Right to Life published a 2017 Pro-Life Heroes list and a 2017 Disappointments List, highlighting specific legislators. This article is part of an ongoing series to explain how specific elected officials earned the title as a Pro-Life Hero or a Disappointment.
J.D. Sheffield (R-Gatesville) is the second most liberal member of the Texas House of Representatives, according to an independent Rice University ranking. Although Sheffield campaigns as Pro-Life, he earned an abysmal 62% score on the Pro-Life scorecard due to many contributing factors and his deliberate anti-Life action.
Sheffield registered unexcused absences during several key Pro-Life votes during the regular session. Despite serving on the House Committee on Appropriations, Sheffield was recorded as absent on a floor vote to instruct House members of the budget conference committee to preserve the increased funding of the Alternatives to Abortion program in the final version of the state’s budget bill. Sheffield also missed votes on weakening amendments offered by Democrats to Senate Bill 8, which banned the gruesome dismemberment abortion procedure.
Most egregious, Sheffield was MIA during the vote on a critical amendment offered by Representative Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler). Although Sheffield was present for the votes immediately before and after this critical amendment, he did not register any vote on the critical Schaefer amendment. Schaefer’s amendment would have closed the current loophole in Texas law that does not protect preborn children diagnosed with a disability from late term abortion. Not only did he refuse to vote on this amendment, but Sheffield also did not bother to record a statement in the House Journal to clarify his stance on protecting preborn children with disabilities. Because of members like Sheffield who missed this important vote or who voted against Life, the amendment was tabled and this discriminatory loophole is still in law.
Sheffield was a joint author of House Bill 2962 during the regular session, a bill to require reporting of abortion complications. However, when this abortion complications reporting bill was strengthened with Pro-Life amendments, he declared on the House floor that he would vote against the bill if the Senate added other Pro-Life amendments. For this and other harmful, public stances, he earned a penalty on his Pro-Life score.
Sheffield’s actions on the House floor demonstrate his true beliefs about protecting innocent human Life. The Pro-Life voters of House District 59 deserve a member who truly represents them, both as a conservative and as a defender of Pro-Life values.
Texas Right to Life has published Sheffield’s full scorecard along with commentary on how he voted on each individual Pro-Life public vote.