Joe Pojman, who heads the TAL, says tensions between the two groups date back years, culminating in a “very bitter disagreement” in 2013 over end-of-life care, a policy both groups spend time focusing on when not lobbying for anti-choice bills. Of course, the groups share a central mission of advancing legislation that limits or ends abortion, but even with that shared anti-choice goal in a deeply red state, they’ve found reason to diverge. The difference largely lies in TRL’s opposition of any exceptions, however narrow, to abortion care, and TAL’s aversion to laws that are likely to be struck down by the courts.
The groups’ divisions grew during the 2017 session: While TRL adamantly supported a ban on dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion, performed in the second trimester, TAL labeled the bill “reckless” because it wouldn’t stand constitutional muster. (Indeed, U.S. Federal Judge Lee Yeakel ruled against the law in November, calling it an unconstitutional “undue burden” on Texas women.) An even less humane amendment by Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, attached to package anti-choice law SB 8 would have removed an exception to the state’s 20-week abortion ban that allows the procedure when the fetus has a severe abnormality (which could mean a stillbirth). TRL supported the measure while Pojman’s group didn’t, due again to its low likelihood of passing through the courts. The amendment proved too radical even for conservative politicians and failed to pass. Republican Burkett said the amendment “goes one step too far” while Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, urged colleagues to vote against the proposal, saying it shows we are “willing to play God with people’s lives.” Both candidates were torched by TRL.