In the Regular Session of the 88th Legislature, Texas lawmakers neglected preborn children, yet improved protections for vulnerable patients. However, the Legislature did pass two bills to help college students who choose Life. In a post-Roe Texas, these bills signify how Texas is not just anti-abortion but Pro-Life and pro-woman. One of Texas Right to Life’s Priorities this session included safeguarding the rights of pregnant and parenting students on college campuses. In this way, we can help encourage and facilitate pregnant and parenting students in choosing Life rather than seeking abortions out of state or from illegal abortion pills online.
Senate Bill 412 by Senator Angela Paxton (R – McKinney), sponsored by Representative Ryan Guillen (R – Rio Grande City), secures federal protections for pregnant and parenting students at the state level. Federal law currently prohibits discrimination and provides accommodations for this student demographic. While these federal protections place certain requirements on state universities, often these protections are not known or made available to students. Codifying such protections at the state level provides stronger oversight to ensure Texas pregnant and parenting students have the resources and accommodations to which they are entitled and safeguards against protections made at the federal level.
SB 412 protects students from being forced to take a leave of absence because of their status as pregnant or parenting. The bill also allows pregnant and parenting students to take some time off if they need, yet return to their degree program in good academic standing as when they left without being required to reapply for admission. These protections and accommodations will enable Texas students to have a child and achieve their educational goals, leading to long-term economic success and independence.
The other bill passed was Senate Bill 459 by Senator Paxton and Representative Caroline Harris (R – Round Rock). This legislation would require that schools that have early class registration for certain students also offer that opportunity to students parenting a child under 18 years old. This benefit will enable parenting students to craft a schedule that will allow them to thrive in their education as well as in parenting.
For too long, the abortion industry has claimed that it is impossible to complete an education while also carrying a child to term. “We need abortion,” they cry, “because without it, these young women will be forced to quit school, never to return.” This is an obvious lie and an insult to every woman.
It is certainly possible to get an education without getting an abortion; children do not need to be sacrificed for academic or career goals. That is not to say, however, that it isn’t difficult. College students are particularly vulnerable to abortion, which is why these bills help to build a Pro-Life Texas where women can choose Life and flourish, not feel pressured into seeking an illegal or out of state abortion.
In these bills, Texas is defending pregnant and parenting students so that they have access to opportunities, benefits, accommodations, and support services to complete their education and thrive, both on campus and after graduation. Having children should not disqualify anyone from participating in Texas’ higher education institutions.
While elective abortion is prohibited in Texas, our work is not over. These bills will secure the rights and interests of pregnant and parenting college students, promoting a culture which values and supports Life.
Texas Right to Life is blessed to be able to offer a scholarship to passionate Pro-Life students on Texas college campuses. Our students are close witnesses to how higher education treats students who become pregnant. Some report that students are told that they would not be allowed to graduate on time if they “chose” to proceed with the pregnancy. Others have even reported that breastfeeding students would have to go all the way across a large campus to find the one lactation room, making it largely inaccessible to the majority of students. While some students have even been denied the ability to make up work or to obtain class materials for lessons missed due to appointments related to their pregnancies or the birth of their child. And overall, it seems to be prohibitively difficult to find information on accommodations in the first place.