By: Andrea Zelinski

This battle of burial is different from many past abortion fights because it focuses debate on the dignity of the fetus instead of the health regulations of abortion clinics. State officials say their goals are to keep fetal and embryonic remains out of sanitary landfills where other medical tissue is disposed of, and banning an outdated procedure of grinding and flushing the remains into a sanitary sewer.

“This is not going to make abortion unavailable. Abortion is readily available in Texas, that will continue,” said Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life. “This is merely about assuring that the remains of babies who die from miscarriage and abortion are handled in a dignified manner.”

The law is easy for abortion clinics and hospitals to comply with, he said. To help defray the costs, the state built a registry of participating funeral homes and cemeteries willing to provide free or low-cost burials. Private nonprofit groups, too, can sign up on the registry to signal their willingness to help pay other related costs.

By: Peggy Fikac

On the anti-abortion side, White’s declaration that he would defend women’s right to abortion drew a rebuke from executive director Joe Pojman of the Texas Alliance for Life.

Pojman accused the Democratic Party of pressuring White “to renounce his pro-life values.”

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“We sincerely hope that Mr. White will untangle himself and return to his original position of support for the unborn, and offer Democrat voters a true pro-life option in this runoff,” Pojman said in a statement.

By: Peggy Fikac

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 spespeople didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Pojman says he would like to work with Texas Right to Life, but that the last e he got from the group was one asking to be removed from his e 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.

By: Peggy Fikac

AUSTIN – Gov. Greg Abbott, speaking at the Texas Rally for Life on Saturday, cited the experience of adopting his daughter as the driving force behind his efforts to curtail abortion.

“Years ago, I held a little baby in my arms. Months before that, her mother talked to staff at a crisis pregnancy center. And after the conversation with that staff, the mother decided against abortion and decided to give her baby a chance at life,” Abbott said at the south side of the Texas Capitol, drawing whoops and applause from the crowd of thousands at the rally sponsored by the Texas Alliance for Life.

Abbott and his wife, Cecilia, adopted Audrey after 16 years of marriage.

“That little infant who might never have had a chance at life is now on the dean’s list at college. And I’m even prouder to tell you that that little infant girl is now my 21-year-old daughter that my wife and I had the opportunity to adopt in her infancy,” Abbott said. “We thank God every single day for the very precious gift of our daughter, Audrey, and for the woman who was strong enough to give Audrey a new life with our family.

“That is why I will always fight for life as your governor,” Abbott said, “and I will ensure that every child has a chance at life.”

Abbott has championed restrictions on abortion as governor, touting state measures to ban “partial-birth” abortion, to outlaw selling fetal parts for profit and to require burial or cremation of fetal remains. The first two also are addressed in federal law.

Some Texas laws have been challenged in court, sometimes successfully.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned abortion restrictions approved in 2013 that imposed new requirements on abortion facilities. And a federal judge last year said parts of a law limiting a second-trimester abortion procedure were unconstitutional. The state is appealing.

Some have criticized Abbott and other Republican leaders who oppose abortion for not providing enough support in areas such as health care for women and children

“I believe that women’s health care is life,” said Nichole Miller, 30, of Austin, who was among a small group of demonstrators at the Capitol on Saturday backing a woman’s right to choose abortion. “They are slowly taking away women’s health care and the right to know about our bodies and the right to choose. It’s not so much about having an abortion. It’s the right to choose whether or not family planning is right for you at that time in your life.”

Dr. Brian and Kathy Seastrunk with the San Antonio Coalition for Life, accompanied by their 3-and-a-half-year old son Isaac, spe in favor of pro-life advocates having a presence outside clinics that offer abortion.

The couplehave three biological children and adopted Isaac after his young mother opted against an abortion, Kathy Seastrunk said. After seeing people “praying peacefully” outside her original clinic destination, the pregnant girl followed signs to a facility that offered an alternative, Kathy Seastrunk said.

“Love saved a life that day,” she said.

Abbott urged those at the rally to make their voices heard at the ballot box, pointing to Texas Supreme Court Justice Jimmy Blacklock, who attended the rally along with other officials including Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, Land Commissioner George P. Bush and a number of lawmakers.

The governor appointed Blacklock to fill a court vacancy. Blacklock is running for the post and faces Democratic State District Judge Steven Kirkland of Harris County in November.

“I don’t have to guess or wonder how Justice Blacklock is going to decide cases because of his proven record of fighting for pro-life causes,” Abbott said. Blacklock was Abbott’s general counsel in the governor’s office and worked for him when Abbott was attorney general.

Texas Alliance for Life speswoman Melissa Duncan said it was estimated that at its largest point, there were 5,000 people at Saturday’s rally.

By: Peggy Fikac

For those whose life’s work is opposing abortion, White’s position doesn’t make a sale.

“We don’t consider him one of our own,” said Joe Pojman, founder and executive director of Texas Alliance for Life. “To us, it’s about supporting policies… that protect unborn children and their mothers from abortion. That’s certainly not what he wants to do.”

The governor’s race is important not only because of legislation that can be approved under current law, but because states will be able to set their own policies and even ban abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court at some point has the votes to reverse Roe v Wade.

“We will need a governor who will sign that legislation. And that’s why the governor’s office is of paramount importance to us,” said Pojman. Abbott, a Republican and staunch abortion opponent, is keynoting the Texas Rally for Life at the Capitol Saturday.