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.
Representative Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) was a Pro-Life hero on many fronts during the 2017 85th Sessions of the Texas Legislature. Not only did he achieve a perfect 100% Pro-Life voting record, but he also authored several Pro-Life bills and amendments. As Chair of the newly-formed Freedom Caucus of the Texas House, Schaefer led the caucus in negotiating and securing every Pro-Life victory in the House through outmaneuvering House leadership and forcing moderate Republicans to move critical legislation and amendments.
Representative Schaefer sought every opportunity to defend the preborn, and he was particularly diligent in advocating for preborn babies with disabilities. Because of an insidious loophole in current Texas law, unborn children with disabilities are not protected from late abortions, past the point of development when these precious babies can feel the torturous pain of the procedure. The state protects all other unborn children from abortion after 20 weeks. Representative Schaefer’s House Bill 1971 marked an effort to close this discriminatory loophole plus promote life-affirming options such as perinatal palliative care for children with disabilities and their families. Unfortunately, Byron Cook, the Chair of the House Committee on State Affairs, singlehandedly killed this bill. (Worth noting is that Byron Cook was recently forced to resign from the Texas House in shame for his obstructionist tactics.)
Because Cook’s tactics killed HB 1971 in committee without consideration, Representative Schaefer offered an amendment on to Senate Bill 8 on the floor of the Texas House. He eloquently defended the value and dignity of the preborn, including those babies with congenital or other challenges, passionately calling his colleagues to be consistent in their Pro-Life views. However, the dastardly Byron Cook once again blocked this Pro-Life policy by moving to table the amendment, a move that killed the measure after other Straus allies and anti-Life Democrats joined him. Because a handful of moderate Republicans chose politics over policy and abandoned preborn children with disabilities, the anti-Life, discriminatory loophole remains in place today.
Representative Schaefer also filed a Pro-Life amendment onto Senate Bill 1, the state’s budget bill for the 2018-2019 biennium. This amendment would have prevented the state from funding abortion providers and their affiliates; however, the policy was adopted in a separate similar amendment on the House floor. Schaefer also greatly strengthened House Bill 2962 and SB 8 through amendments by requiring the reporting of abortion statistics to be done monthly and to be submitted electronically. Schaefer also added teeth to the legislation with penalties for non-compliant abortionists.
Representative Matt Schaefer has proven himself time and again as a faithful and courageous fighter on behalf of vulnerable Texans, even when powerful moderate Republicans attack him. The voters of House District 6 have truly Pro-Life representation in the Capitol, with a member who not only campaigns as Pro-Life but consistently advances the Culture of Life in the Texas House of Representatives. We are grateful for Representative Schaefer and proud to name him one of Texas Right to Life’s 2017 Pro-Life Heroes.
Click for Schaefer’s full scorecard and the commentary on how he voted on each individual Pro-Life public vote scored by Texas Right to Life.