Special Session Priority – Additional Protections for Preborn Children

The Regular Session of the 87th Texas Legislature can aptly be described as a great victory for preborn children and a devastating loss for vulnerable patients. Texas Right to Life had six Pro-Life Priorities for the 87th Legislature, only two of which were fully accomplished. While the passage of the Texas Heartbeat Act and the increased funding allocated to the life-affirming Alternatives to Abortion program are victories to celebrate, our fight to protect each innocent human life is far from finished. As Governor Abbott calls legislators back to Austin for multiple special sessions, our state must not squander these opportunities to protect even more innocent human lives by passing the remaining Pro-Life Priorities, including additional protections for preborn children.

The Texas Heartbeat Act, Senate Bill 8 by Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Tyler) and Representative Shelby Slawson (R-Stephenville), is the strongest Pro-Life bill to pass the Texas Legislature since the Supreme Court of the United States handed down Roe v. Wade in 1973. In practice, SB 8 will protect preborn children from horrors of elective abortion when a heartbeat is detectable, as early as six weeks. Rather than place enforcement power in the offices of pro-abortion district attorneys—most of whom indicate little interest in enforcing Pro-Life laws, instead preferring to cravenly abdicate their constitutional duties—the bill empowers Pro-Life citizens to hold the abortion industry accountable and ensure they don’t ignore the law in pursuit of profit by death. Texas Right to Life and Pro-Life Texans are celebrating this monumental life-saving victory, and appropriately so. But in this movement with life-and-death implications, inaction and delay beget the loss of life. Texas must continue to fight to protect all preborn life, including those youngest and most vulnerable who are still exposed to the danger of the abortion industry between fertilization and when a heartbeat is detectable. 

Senate Bill 8 is just one piece of a more expansive, yet tactical, Pro-Life legislative strategy. Texas Right to Life’s preeminent priority for the 87th Legislature was, and still is, the Texas Abolition Strategy (TAS). This one-bill approach, Senate Bill 1647 by Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) and House Bill 3760 by Representative Tom Oliverson, M.D., (R-Cypress), incorporates the following:

  1. Preborn NonDiscrimination Act (PreNDA): Bans the remaining late-term abortions in Texas; prohibits discriminatory abortions based on the preborn child’s race, sex, or disability; and, offers families of a preborn child facing a life-threatening diagnosis life-affirming resources, such as perinatal palliative care
  2. Texas Heartbeat Act: Bans elective abortions after the preborn child’s heartbeat is detectable
  3. Complete Abolition of Abortion: Bans the remaining elective abortions in Texas

Full abolition of abortion would take effect in 2025 at the latest, giving the necessary time to lay the foundation to overturn Roe v. Wade in our judicial system and the Supreme Court to rule on a Mississippi Pro-Life law. As discussed above, the Texas Heartbeat Act was fully accomplished during the regular session, and the first policy piece of PreNDA was also accomplished. 

TAS, as well as independently-filed bills on the Texas Heartbeat Act and PreNDA, passed the Texas Senate as the strongest Pro-Life bill to pass either chamber since Roe. After the House Committee on Public Health heard and passed these bills as well, the Texas Heartbeat Act was considered and voted on the House floor, and signed into law by the governor. The House Committee on Calendars later set PreNDA on the House floor at the last possible moment, ensuring the bill would never receive a vote—a quiet death for the Pro-Life Priority. 

Another Pro-Life policy that similarly moved swiftly through the Senate before hitting a brick wall in the House Calendars Committee was Senate Bill 394 by Senator Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville) and House Bill 2337 by Representative Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth). Predictably, Joe Biden has moved quickly to expand the abortion industry in various ways since he took office. One approach was to instruct the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to review their chemical abortion regimen regulations, with the expectation that guardrails on this dangerous drug will soon be eliminated. SB 394/HB 2337 will strengthen those regulations in Texas law, allowing state-level enforcement of chemical abortion to protect Texas women and ensuring Biden’s FDA can’t weaponize safety regulations against Texans.

Lastly, if Pro-Life citizens are going to enforce Pro-Life laws where pro-abortion prosecutors can’t or won’t, accurate and geographically indexed abortion data is crucial. Senate Bill 1146 by Senator Perry will fortify our abortion reporting system, including requiring public reporting on where abortions are committed. Anecdotal accounts of the abortion industry violating Texas law only strengthen with empirical evidence.

The passage of the Texas Heartbeat Act is a celebratory occasion. One only needs to review many of the anti-Life doomsday headlines that accompanied the bill’s journey through the Legislature. But Governor Abbott has set a special session, beginning on July 8. The Legislature will be at work once more to address missed opportunities from the regular session. Celebration can’t breed complacency; satisfaction can’t engender inaction. Now is the time for the Texas Legislature to build on the momentum of passing the Texas Heartbeat Act and protect even more innocent preborn lives. That’s why we’ve asked Governor Abbott to add the unfinished policy pieces of TAS, SB 394, and SB 1146 to the special session agenda. The abortion industry doesn’t sleep. Neither should we.

Sign the petition today urging Governor Abbott to add these additional protections for preborn children to his special session agenda!