At one forum, Allison rattled off a list of his endorsers, including the Texas Parent PAC, a public education-focused group, and the Texas Alliance for Life, arguing the variety of groups signifies his “breadth and depth of experience.”
Joe Pojman, the executive director of the Texas Alliance for Life, a group the bishops were careful to point out they still support, told legislators that they should pass on the bill — not because it wasn’t the right thing to do, but because it would inevitably be struck down by the courts because of the limits it places on women in their second trimester who might seek an abortion.
“With due respect for the author [of SB 415], we just don’t think the bill will survive a federal court challenge,” Pojman said. “We cannot recommend it to you. We’d love to believe that Kennedy would support this. We told you he would support [the Texas anti-abortion law struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016]. We were wrong.”
But Abbott and Pojman interacted warmly at the event, and Abbott’s appearance seems enough to show his support of the group’s work. The governor’s spokespeople didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Pojman says he would like to work with Texas Right to Life, but that the last email he got from the group was one asking to be removed from his email list 18 months ago.
“We regret that there is a split in the pro-life movement,” Pojman said. He said it weakens the movement’s credibility and keeps them from pooling resources. “It is not our preference, and we seek to have all the groups working together, but a marriage takes two willing partners,” he said.
The bishops said the other two organizations are “consistent with the bishops’ positions” on life issues.
“Texas Alliance for Life and Texans for Life Coalition work very well together with the Catholic bishops, and it is our goal to have all the groups working together,” said Joe Pojman, the Executive Director of Texas Alliance for Life.
“Texas Right to Life do not have the same vision and they tend to not work with the Texas bishops on pro-life issues and with Texas Alliance for Life and Texans for Life Coalition, and that’s very unfortunate,” he told Crux. “We have an obligation to pool all our resources, because the abortion industry, which is very powerful in Texas and across the country including Planned Parenthood have vast resources and I think we have an obligation to pool ours to counter that, but unfortunately it’s not worked out very well.”
Pojman said his organization is non-sectarian but is happy to work with the Texas Catholic Conference because it is “the most effective pro-life organization in the Texas legislature.”
“Texas has done so much to protect unborn babies and their mothers from abortion, provide compassionate alternatives to abortion, and especially to protect patients at the end of life from euthanasia. That would not have been possible without the leadership and the resources that the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops,” Pojman said.
According to a written directive, Texas Right to Life has engaged in misleading attacks against political candidates, lied about the Catholic Church’s position on legislation at the state Capitol and opposed church-supported bills by arguing that they don’t go far enough to limit abortions.
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“This is really big,” Wright said. “It’s very, very unfortunate that it came to this. But for our organization, and me personally, to be maligned and slandered for several years, and for our candidates and people who work in good faith to advance good policy down in Austin to be unfairly and maliciously attacked, that hasn’t been good for our movement, either.
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The directive also encouraged Catholics to remain active in opposing abortion and endorsed participation in Texans for Life Alliance, Texas Alliance for Life and “pro-life groups which engage in respectful legislative advocacy.”
Much of the conflict is over whether Texas should focus on passing laws that might survive federal court review, or try to impose stricter restrictions that would probably be overturned in court.
“Part of the dispute,” the bishops wrote, “is rooted in Texas Right to Life’s rejection of incremental pro-life reforms. … An incremental reform is one which improves the current situation but does not reform the status quo as much as we might desire.”
In the last session of the Texas Legislature, Empower Texans urged lawmakers to consider a bill by state Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, that would make abortion a crime and openly defy federal rulings or enforcement.
“Some of their goals are not well-founded in law,” said Joe Pojman of the Austin-based Texas Alliance for Life, another active anti-abortion group along with Wright’s group.