January 11th marks the beginning of the 82nd Session for the Texas State Legislature. The State Senate and State House of Representatives meet every biennium for 140 days, an astonishingly short time for our elected officials to consider and craft policy on pressing matters of the state. Pro-Life measures will be competing with more than 5,000 other bills. Because the window to pass Pro-Life legislation and stop anti-life measures is so small, Texas Right to Life works on our legislative efforts year round, researching state and federal regulations, compiling data, consulting constitutional experts, crafting language, and enlisting witnesses to share their personal stories. After intense preparation plus collaboration with elected officials, Texas Right to Life finalizes and sets the Pro-Life agenda for each session. Our team of four lobbyists moves to Austin and remains stationed at the Capitol through Memorial Day to spearhead the passage of the measures.
1. Decrease State Money that Funds the Abortion Industry
Freshman Representative David Simpson (R-Longview) pre-filed House Bill 85, a bill that would plug the funnel of state funds to the abortion industry. The bill would prohibit any government entity from supporting or contracting with any individual, organization, or facility that provides, promotes, or refers for abortions or abortion-related services or contracts with any organization that does the same. The bill clarifies that this support includes financial (through grants, contracts, etc.) as well as other material means (discounted rent, use of property, equipment, etc). Not only will this bill significantly cut the enemy’s supply line, but also current restrictions on the flow of funds would be more easily enforced.
2. Opt Abortion out of Obamacare in Texas
Four other states have passed laws that allow their state health insurance exchanges to specifically exclude coverage for abortion from the now-mandated Obamacare. According to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), each state must establish a State Exchange through which insurance is offered to citizens and employers; these exchanges will fund abortion and abortion services. However, the PPACA includes a loophole, authorizing states to pass legislation opting them out of exchange plans that pay for abortions. Senator Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) and Representative Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi) will carry this landmark legislation.
3. Stop Coerced Abortions
Over the last few years, Texas Right to Life has heard an outcry from women about the reality and horrific nature of coerced abortions. Women are being pressured or forced to undergo abortions by their parents, husbands, boyfriends, and others. While Texas and federal law assume that coercion is illegal, nowhere is coercion clearly outlawed. To protect women from coerced abortions, a requirement that clinics and abortionists screen for coercion could be enacted. Thus, if a woman shares that she is not giving her voluntary consent for the abortion, she is provided a phone in a private room along with numbers for law enforcement, abuse hotlines, and women’s shelters. Additionally, large signs will be posted in clinics informing women about coerced abortions, and forms will be adopted to give unknowing women a chance to choose life.
4. Sonogram Mandate before an Abortion
The sonogram bill would require that a sonogram be done (not offered, but actually done on every pregnant woman) prior to every abortion. A simultaneous, verbal explanation would be provided to identify arms, legs, and the heartbeat of the unborn child. The sonogram mandate would ensure that women in Texas are fully informed before making the life-changing decision of abortion or childbirth.
In addition to these priorities, our lobby team has prepared numerous other agenda items to restore the sanctity of innocent human life.
While Texas Right to Life’s legislative team will be in the Capitol around the clock during the legislative session, all Pro-Life Texans must lobby for life. We will call upon you throughout the session to contact your State Senator and State Representative to support these key life issues.
For more detailed legislative updates throughout the session, stay tuned at TexasRightToLife.com.