In a recent article on their website, Empower Texans claims that Texas Alliance for Life opposed a bill to ban the most common method of second trimester abortion, Senate Bill 415, claiming that we “sided with pro-abortion groups in opposing the legislation.”
That claim is false.
Indeed, there are quite a few incorrect statements about Texas Alliance for Life in the article, and the article’s conclusion is entirely wrong. This is not the first time that Empower Texans has grossly misrepresented Texas Alliance for Life’s positions.
What Really Happened
On February 15, 2017, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard public testimony on three bills related to the gruesome and barbaric practice of abortion in Texas. Texas Alliance for Life testified in “support” of two of the bills and “on” the third bill. We testified in support of SB 8, a bill to ban partial-birth abortion as well as the sale of tissue harvested from the bodies of babies killed through elective abortion. We also testified in support of SB 258 to ensure the humane disposition of the remains of babies who die from elective abortion.
Our Position on SB 415
Representing Texas Alliance for Life, I testified “on” Senate Bill 415 (in other words, not taking a position “for” or “against”). We did not side with the real opponents of SB 415 — pro-abortion groups who lobbied for the abortion industry by opposing SB 8, SB 258, and SB 415. This is an important distinction, as anyone conversant in Texas legislative procedures is well aware, including the article’s author Cary Cheshire, who claims to be an insider.
The Dismemberment Ban that Saves No Lives
SB 415, authored by Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), seeks to ban the most common method of second trimester abortions. In that method a live unborn baby is dismembered and removed piece by piece, killing the baby. Senator Perry’s stated position is that the bill will not save any lives. However, because SB 415 permits abortion doctors to “kill” the babies before dismembering them, for example, by lethal injection, his intent, which he stated several times, is to prevent “torturous and inhumane pain” experienced by unborn children during dismemberment. “The outcome, unfortunately, and this is the saddest thing I’ll say today is that still, [there is] an aborted baby, even under 415’s legislation, so that didn’t change the outcome….”
The reality is that, if SB 415 were passed by the Legislature, it would save no lives; nor would it the prevent pain endured by unborn children during abortion. Instead, it would fund the abortion industry.
The Dismemberment Ban that Prevents No Pain
He explains why SB 415 will prevent no abortions of unborn children by dismemberment or any other abortion method. SB 415 will not protect babies from the pain associated with death by dismemberment. Killing the unborn babies by lethal injection of digoxin or potassium chloride before dismembering them as Senator Perry suggests likely causes those babies to endure a painful and lengthy death in their mothers’ womb.
Linton explains in a more recent memo that all available medical literature point to three conclusions:
- First, killing the baby by any of the available methods before dismembering the child requires specialized training that few abortion doctors have, making abortion far less unavailable, which the courts would not tolerate.
- Second, causing death to the unborn child before dismemberment likely increases risks to the pregnant woman, which the courts will also not tolerate.
- Third, killing the child by injection will likely inflict lengthy, terrible pain to the unborn child. Anyone who believes lethal injection is somehow more compassionate for the unborn child is sadly mistaken.
No court will uphold a ban on the performance of dismemberment abortions on live, unborn children in the absence of compelling evidence that causing the death of the child before beginning the procedure can be done with equal safety for the woman throughout the second trimester of pregnancy by any physician who performs D&E abortions. No such evidence was presented to the Committee, nor does such evidence exist in the literature. Accordingly, a court would find S.B. 415 to be unconstitutional.
The Dismemberment Ban that Will Fund the Abortion Industry
The cost to the State to unsuccessfully defend the law may run into hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars. We point out that, in the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case regarding HB 2 (in which the State lost the challenge to two of the four provisions of HB 2), the State will be required to pay as much as $4.5 million to the plaintiffs for their attorneys’ fees. Here is their motion for reimbursement.
Handing these funds over to pro-abortion organizations seems entirely unjustifiable given the certainty they will use the funds to attack other pro-life laws in Texas and other states.
That Day Has Not Yet Come
While we look forward to the day when states can ban abortion in the second trimester (and throughout pregnancy), that day has not yet come. The State of Texas and other states are severely restricted by the United States Supreme Court. Given the current makeup of the Supreme Court, this type of law would not survive a federal challenge, and would therefore save no lives.
We do not have enough votes on the Court. Of the current eight members of the Supreme Court, five are staunch supporters of the abortion industry. They prohibit states from banning abortion — either expressly or by limiting access to abortion — before the unborn child has reached the point of “viability.”
We saw this last summer when the Court struck down the important provisions of HB 2 that increased safety regulations at abortion facilities. Justice Kennedy, whose vote Empower Texans relies upon to uphold a dismemberment ban, is one of those five, and he cannot be trusted to do otherwise, as this article by TAL’s General Counsel Christopher Maska demonstrates.
If the replacement for Justice Scalia is just as conservative as he was, that does not change the math. We will still lack a majority on the Court.
Strategic, Not Reckless
We are asking lawmakers to be strategic, not reckless: Wait for the right moment before launching an attack of this kind on Roe v. Wade. That moment will not come until there are two or three more justices on the Supreme Court who realize there is no right to abortion in the Constitution. Hence, we cannot recommend this bill at this time because we simply do not have the votes on the Court to overturn Roe in total or in part.
Honesty to the Legislature
The job of a truly pro-life organization is to give honest and accurate evaluations of legislative proposals, even when it is not what the proposer would like to hear.
We have high regard for SB 415’s author, Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock). We worked with Senator Perry and his staff in 2015 to modify the language of a bill he sponsored, HB 3994, to ensure it would not be struck down from a lawsuit from the abortion industry. HB 3994 removed loopholes in the laws governing judicial bypass proceedings for abortions on minor girls without parental consent. We appear to be successful as there have been no legal challenges. Indeed, because of his work on HB 3994 and his support for other pro-life bills, we gave Senator Perry our “Courageous Defense of Life” award in 2015.
“On the dismemberment ban, with due respect to the author, we do not believe [SB 415] can survive a federal court challenge and we cannot recommend it to you,” I testified at the hearing.
I further testified, “[Justice] Kennedy will not support anything that prevents a woman from having an abortion before viability… I do not want to simply say pretty things to you.”
Empower Texans’ Dishonesty
Empower Texans did not testify for or sign-in in favor of SB 415 either. That is apparent from the Committee’s witness list.
Even if Empower Texans were honest about Texas Alliance for Life’s position on SB 415, which it is not, it would still seem hypocritical that Empower Texans would criticize Texas Alliance for Life’s position to not endorse SB 415 when Empower Texans itself did not endorse SB 415 in the Committee hearing.
Empower Texans has made inaccurate claims about Texas Alliance for Life before. Readers can see a response in Breitbart Texas to false accusations made by the president of Empower Texans, Michael Quinn Sullivan.
Additionally, for many years, Empower Texans and a small number of other organizations have made unwarranted attacks on pro-life House Speaker Joe Straus. Here is an article debunking their many false claims.
We are more than willing to discuss our position on this and any other issue where we have taken a position. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.