The 140-day regular session of the 86th Texas Legislature began on January 8, 2019, and will end on Monday, May 27, 2019. Our public policy team is tracking hundreds of bills that may be relevant to life issues. Here is a summary of highlights, including bills that have recent or upcoming activity. (For a summary of successes in the 85th Legislature and our scorecard, see below.)
Contacting your state senator and representative is one of the most important and effective things you can do as a pro-lifer. Your legislators are based on your street address.
- Phone: 512.463.4630 (Capitol Switchboard)
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- Mail: The Honorable (Full Name), Texas Senate, PO Box 12068, Austin TX 78711 or The Honorable (Full Name), Texas House of Representatives, PO Box 2910, Austin TX 78768
- April 23
- SB 24, Alternatives to Abortion Information Act. Senate gave final approval (3rd reading) on a 22-9 vote.
- SB 1854, Requires transparency for School Health Advisory Committees (SHACs). Considered by the Senate Business and Commerce Committee.
- SB 1033, Bans abortions before viability. Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted it out 6-3. Texas Alliance for Life is not supporting this bill, and we are not recommending that the Legislature pass it because it will not survive a federal court challenge.
- HB 1, General Appropriations Act. The HB 1 Conference Committee had its first meeting. Many more are expected.
- April 17
- HB 16, Texas Born-Alive Infant Protection Act. House gave final approval (3rd reading). Sent to the Senate.
- HB 902, Increase Penalties for Assaulting a Pregnant Woman. House gave final approval (3rd reading). Sent to the Senate.
- HB 4199, Ban on Wrongful Birth Lawsuits (bans lawsuits when the parents of a child with disabilities sues the doctor because they believe they were not properly informed of the disability in time to abort the child). Reported favorably from the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee. REQUESTED ACTION: Please contact and ask your state representative to support HB 4199.
- April 15
- HB 2725, Voted down by the House Public Health Committee. Makes adoption records available to an adult adoptee against the wishes of birth parents who desire to remain anonymous. Texas Alliance for Life opposes this bill.
- April 10
- Senate Health and Human Services Committee considered the following bills:
- SB 2355, Improves the dispute resolution process in the Texas Advance Directives Act. Requires hospital medical or ethics committees to have policies that ban decisions based on discrimination. REQUESTED ACTION: Please contact and ask your state senator to support SB 2355.
- SB 2089, Destroys the dispute resolution process in the Texas Advance Directives Act. Texas Alliance for Life opposes this bill.
- SB 2129, Weakens the dispute resolution process in the Texas Advance Directives Act. Texas Alliance for Life opposes this bill.
- SB 2243, Increases counseling requirements before an abortion. Texas Alliance for Life supports this bill.
- Senate Health and Human Services Committee considered the following bills:
- April 9
- SB 23, Born-Alive Infant Protection Act. Senate gave final approval on 21-10 vote.
- April 8
- HB 2271, Advertise the Choose Life License Plate. Considered by House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee. Left pending.
- HB 4526, Civil Penalties for Violations for State Abortion Laws. Considered by House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee. Left pending.
- HB 896, Abolitionist Ban on Abortion. An immediate ban on abortion, prosecution of women involved in abortion, and require the Attorney General to ignore the Supreme Court. Considered by House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee. Texas Alliance for Life is not supporting this bill, and we are not recommending that the Legislature pass it because it will not survive a federal court challenge.
- HB 4082, Allows state parties to disqualify candidates on the primary ballot, thereby taking the power away from voters to nominate candidates for the general election. Considered by House Elections Committee. Left pending. Texas Alliance for Life opposes this bill.
- April 1
- HB 2350, (Trigger Ban on abortion). Public hearing in House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee. Left pending.
Bills We Recommend to the Texas Legislature:
- “Trigger” ban on abortion. Abortion ban goes into effect when and to the extent that the Supreme Court repeals Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Defund Planned Parenthood — SB 22 Sen. Donna Campbell, HB 1929 Rep. Candy Noble
- Ban on contracts between a governmental entity (the state, cities, counties, school districts, and hospital districts) and abortion providers and their affiliates.
Texas Born-Alive Infant Protection Act — SB 23 Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, HB 16 Rep. Jeff Leach
- Requires appropriate medical treatment for infants born alive after an abortion.
Improve Informed Consent — SB 24 Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., HB 4240 Rep. Chris Paddie
- Assures that women receive a private consultation with the physician before she consents to the abortion.
- Clarifies that the DSHS “Woman’s Right to Know” brochures must be physically handed to the patient at the abortion facility.
Promote Alternatives to Abortion —
SB 1 Sen. Jane Nelson, HB 1 Rep. John Zerwas
- Continue the Alternatives to Abortion program and increase funding.
HB 3873 Rep. Ernest Bailes
- Put the Alternatives to Abortion program in statute.
Increase Penalties for Assaulting a Pregnant Woman — HB 902 Rep. Brooks Landgraf, SB 1305 Sen. Joan Huffman
- Increase the penalty for assaulting a pregnant woman from a Class A misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.
Liability Insurance for Abortion Providers — HB 2735 Rep. Kyle Kacal
- Require medical liability insurance for abortion providers.
Improved Public Information Requests — HB 3071 Rep. Ken King
- Make an application for an abortion facility license open to public records.
Conscience Protection for Medical Students — HB 3107 Rep. Keith Bell
- Requires notice of the right to object to participation in an abortion procedure for health care personnel of a hospital, medical school, or health care facility.
Ban “Mail Order” Abortions — HB 3205 Rep. Rick Miller
- Criminalizes the delivery of a drug or device intended to be used to induce an unlawful abortion.
- Ban wrongful birth lawsuits, in which the parents of the child born with a disability such as Down syndrome sue the physician if they believe they were not properly informed of the disability in time to abort the child.
Abortion Safety —
HB 4213 Rep. Ben Leman
- Include all physicians in abortion complications reporting mandates in Health and Safety Code §171.006(b).
- Require 2-week follow-up after surgical abortions, as with drug-induced abortions in Health and Safety Code §171.063(e).
- Codify the current FDA regulations governing drug-induced abortions.
HB 3321 Rep. Dewayne Burns
- Include primary care physicians and urgent care facilities in abortion complications reporting mandates in Health & Safety Code §171.006(b)
Require Sonograms for Abortions on Minors — SB 1027 Sen. Bob Hall
- Require a sonogram for a minor seeking an abortion who does not have the benefit of parental consent after a judicial bypass proceeding.
Add Civil Penalties for Violations for State Abortion Laws — HB 4526 Rep. Valerie Swanson
- Give the Attorney General the authority to bring civil suits against persons who violation Texas’ bans on late abortions, abortions after 20 weeks post-fertilization, partial-birth abortions, and dismemberment abortions for as much as $30,000.
Advertise the Choose Life License Plate — HB 2271 Rep. Mike Lang
- Give the Attorney General the authority to use revenues from the sales of the Choose Life license plate to advertise the plates (to increase sales).
Increase Counselling before Abortion — SB 2243 Sen. Angela Paxton
- Increases counseling requirements before an abortion.
Increase Transparency for School Health Advisory Committees —
SB 1854 Sen. Angela Paxton
- Requires School Health Advisory Committees (SHACs) to be subject to the Texas Open Meetings Act.
SB 784 Sen. Bryan Hughes
- Strengthens notice to and participation by parents in human sexuality instruction in schools.
End of Life Care —
SB 2355 Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., HB 3743 Rep. Garnet Coleman
- Improve the dispute resolution process in the Texas Advance Directives Act involving end-of-life care by requiring hospital medical or ethics committees to have policies that ban decisions based on discrimination.
HB 3332 Rep. James Frank
- Ensure that patient wishes for Do-Not-Resuscitate orders are respected.
Bills We Are Not Recommending:
Our goal is to completely protect unborn babies from abortion beginning at fertilization. However, at this time we are not recommending the Texas Legislature support bills that have little chance of surviving a federal court challenge. If passed, these bills would seriously set back the pro-life movement, not advance protections for unborn children. They would result in more bad precedent in the wake of Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). They also would result in substantial attorneys’ fees the State of Texas is required to pay to the plaintiffs, thus strengthening the abortion industry and the organizations that represent them in court, including the ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Current Supreme Court precedent, as defined in Roe and Casey, prohibit states from banning or limiting abortion by imposing an “undue burden” on a woman seeking a pre-viability abortion. In Casey, the Court wrote, “A State may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability.” Also in Casey, the Court defined viability as “the time at which there is a realistic possibility of maintaining and nourishing a life outside the womb.”
It is not at all clear that there are enough votes on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe and Casey as explained by our Special Counsel Paul Linton: How Will Justice Kavanaugh Affect the Supreme Court?
Note that a healthy baby can achieve the Supreme Court’s definition of viability as early as 23 weeks of gestation (measured from the last menstrual period; 21 weeks post-fertilization). For a baby with a severe fetal abnormality, such as anencephaly, that baby may never be “viable,” and tragically a state may never protect the baby from abortion.
Thus, states may not — for any reason — protect unborn babies from abortion who are not viable. While this standard is extremely unjust, it has required lower courts to prevent enforcement of countless pro-life laws in the 46 years since Roe.
Losing abortion cases in court weakens the pro-life cause and strengthens the abortion industry. The bad precedent of a loss is used to strike down more pro-life laws in Texas and other states. The 2016 loss in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt in which the Supreme Court struck down safety regulations at abortion facilities has been used to strike down a number of laws in other states. Furthermore, Texas may be required to pay $4 million or more to the attorneys for the plaintiffs, including the Center for Reproductive Rights whose annual income is $1.5 million.
Ignoring the Supreme Court is not a realistic possibility and would have no benefit. Regardless of whether the Legislature or the Attorney General ignores the Supreme Court (which they will not do), all abortion laws must be enforced and prosecuted by local district attorneys and county prosecutors. All DAs and prosecutors have taken an oath of office to uphold the Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court. They will not enforce any law when prohibited by the Supreme Court.
For example, Texas’ pre-Roe law against abortion, first passed in 1954, has never been explicitly repealed by the Legislature. Yet no district attorney has ever attempted to prosecute a doctor for performing an abortion in any of Texas’ 254 counties in the 46 years since the Supreme Court prohibited enforcement of that law.
HB 47 Rep. Valoree Swanson
- Revokes the license of a physician who performs an abortion except to save the mother’s life. Since only physicians may perform abortions in Texas (Health & Safety Code §171.003), this bill would effectively ban abortion on non-viable babies, which the Supreme Court does not permit.
HB 896 Rep. Tony Tinderholt
- Bans abortions on non-viable babies, which the Supreme Court does not permit. Requires the Texas Attorney General to ignore the Supreme Court, which is not possible. Criminalizes abortion for women on whom an abortion is performed. Women were never prosecuted for receiving an abortion in Texas beginning with the original law protecting unborn babies from abortion passed in 1854.
HB 1500 Rep. Briscoe Cain
- Bans abortions on non-viable abortions when the heartbeat is detected, which the Supreme Court does not permit. This law has been passed in three states and struck down in all three, Arkansas, North Dakota, and Iowa. Requests by Arkansas and North Dakota to review the cases have been denied by the Supreme Court.
HB 2434 Rep. Matt Schaeffer, SB 1033 Sen. Kelly Hancock
- Bans abortions on non-viable babies for discrimination reasons (sex, race, ethnicity, disability) and on babies who will die before or shortly after birth because of a “severe fetal abnormality” regardless of medical treatment. The Supreme Court does not permit states to protect non-viable babies from abortion.
Bills We Oppose
These end of life-related bills would reverse legislative gains: in the Texas Advance Directives Act — particularly the dispute resolution process in § 166.046, Health and Safety Code — instead of strengthening the current law.
HB 3158 / SB 2089 by Rep. Richard Raymond / Sen. Brian Hughes
- May force physicians and other health care providers to perform interventions indefinitely for terminally ill patients that would harm the patient by causing grave suffering and risking the hastening of the patient’s death disproportionate to the benefit of the intervention.
HB 3369 by Rep. Tan Parker
- May force physicians and other health care providers to perform interventions indefinitely for terminally ill patients that would harm the patient by causing grave suffering and risking the hastening of the patient’s death.
SB 2129 by Rep. Brandon Creighton
- May force physicians and other health care providers to perform interventions indefinitely for terminally ill patients that would harm the patient by causing grave suffering disproportionate to the benefit of the intervention.
These abortion-related bills would weaken or reverse protections for unborn babies and their mothers.
HB 895 by Rep. Sheryl Cole
- Requires the State Medicaid program to pay for elective abortions.
HB 150 by Sen. Jose Rodriguez
- Repeals many of the pro-life protections for pregnant mothers and unborn babies currently in Texas law, including abortion facility safety regulations and the ban on abortions after 20 weeks.
HB 2725 by Rep. Gina Calanni
- Makes adoption records available to an adult adoptee even against the wishes of birth parents who desire to remain anonymous.
85th Texas Legislature — Accomplishments and Scorecard
Click the link below for a recap of the Accomplishments from the 85th Texas Legislature in 2017:
For a breakdown of where each legislator landed on the votes for the bills view our 2017 Legislative Scorecard here.