On Monday, March 16, 2015 Texas Alliance for Life joined a coalition of pro-life organizations to hold a news conference at the Texas Capitol to promote an agenda of pro-life bills. The coalition of organizations and legislators came together to highlight 10 pro-life bills they are supporting during the 84th Legislature. Several House members appeared to speak about their pro-life bills. You can view a list and summary of the pro-life bills highlighted here. They are listed below.
The coalition of organizations included the Texas Catholic Conference, Texans for Life Coalition, and Texas Alliance for Life. The Christian Life Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention of Texas also joined in support of the end-of-life bills.
The news conference began with Kyleen Wright introducing Texans for Life Coalition which began 40 years ago. Joe Pojman followed by introducing Texas Alliance for Life which has supporters in every House district in the state. Jennifer Allmon introduced the Texas Catholic Conference, which represents the Catholic Bishops of Texas. The entire news conference is available for viewing here.
Rep. Jim Keffer (R-Eastland) emceed the news conference. Rep. Keffer began by summarizing the pro-life gains made over the past several legislative sessions and reiterated the importance of passing more pro-life measures to protect women and unborn children. “Over the past several legislative sessions, Texas has become a national leader in pro-life legislation. This includes significantly defunding Planned Parenthood and shifting those funds to providers who do not perform abortion. We passed, arguably, the strongest Sonogram Bill in the nation, and the legislature passed House Bill 2 which bans abortions after the fifth month of pregnancy as well as vastly increases safety standards at abortion facilities,” said Rep. Keffer. He further stressed that these are not the only pro-life bills being proposed, and that these are not the only pro-life members, but rather that these 10 bills are the bills that the present coalition is supporting.
Rep. Debbie Riddle (R-Spring) introduced House Bill 416, which would require training for abortion facility personnel to identify victims of sex trafficking. The House State Affairs Committee, at its first meeting of the session, had already heard House Bill 416 and is expected to vote it out soon.
Rep. Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) outlined House Bill 2924, the Down Syndrome Information Act, which would require that valuable medical and scientific based information be given to parents of an unborn child newly diagnosed with Down syndrome. The state-prepared information will address physical, developmental, and educational outcomes, but will not promote abortion. Rep. Landgraf filed HB 2924 in honor of his Aunt Phyllis who was diagnosed with Down syndrome and has “brought more than 50 years of continuous joy to our family.”
Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster) presented House Bill 3074, which deals with hydration and nutrition for those in their final stages of life. Rep. Springer mentioned that he worked throughout the interim on this bill, with his Catholic Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth, to protect patients from being starved or dehydrated to death near the end of life. House Bill 3074 would protect patients from being starved or dehydrated to death near the end of life.
Rep. Marsha Farney (R-Georgetown) introduced House Bill 3130, which would allow for people who purchase insurance through the Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange to not be compelled to pay for abortions.
Rep. Keffer concluded the news conference by thanking the coalition and other members of the House present to show their support for these pro-life measures. Members included: Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock (R-Killeen) who chairs the Public Education Committee, Rep. Cindy Burkett (R-Sunnyvale), Rep. Angie Chen Button (R-Garland) who chairs the Economic and Small Business Development Committee, Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) who chairs the critical State Affairs Committee, Rep. Myra Crownover (R-Denton) who Chairs the important Public Health Committee, Rep. Drew Darby (R-San Angelo) who chairs the Energy Resources Committee, Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van) who chairs the Pensions Committee, Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) who chairs the House Administration Committee, Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christ) who chairs the vital Calendars Committee, Rep. Jim Keffer who also chairs the Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Will Metcalf (R-Conroe), Rep. John Otto (R-Dayton) who chairs the Appropriations Committee, Rep. Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) who chairs the House Republican Caucus, and Rep. John Wray (R-Waxahachie).
With more than 5,000 pieces of legislation filed in the Texas House, it can be difficult to distinguish which pieces are priority for the House Leadership. However, with the impressive turnout from critical members of the House Leadership at this pro-life coalition’s news conference, it is safe to say House Leadership has demonstrated that the pro-life agenda is the House Leadership’s agenda.