Sixteen years ago, the Texas Legislature passed, and then-Governor Rick Perry signed into law, a remarkable, landmark bill called the Prenatal Protection Act.
The Prenatal Protection Act, for the first time in the history of Texas, recognized the personhood of the unborn child in criminal law. It established criminal and civil penalties for a third party who injures or takes the life of an unborn child in the womb against the wishes of the mother, such as in cases of homicide, assault, drunk driving, or negligence. It was the top priority for Texas Alliance for Life that year.
That means that, since 2003, the unborn child cradled in the mother’s womb is protected from violent crimes like homicide and assault the same as a newborn child cradled in the mother’s arms, indeed the same as any individual who is born.
Before the Prenatal Protection Act, an assailant could not be prosecuted for any crime related to the death of an unborn child. The child was considered a body part of the mother. Now, killing an unborn child against the mother’s wishes is a crime of homicide. And parents can sue for the wrongful death of the unborn child.
That law has been upheld several times in the highest criminal court in Texas, the Court of Criminal Appeals, and people are serving life sentences for killing unborn children, even when the mother survives.
The authors of that bill were State Senator Ken Armbrister and State Representative Ray Allen. We continue to be grateful to both. But we regret to announce that Representative Ray Allen passed away earlier this week after a courageous battle with cancer.
Ray Allen served in the Legislature from 1993 to 2006. When he retired, we missed him then, and we miss him still. He was an excellent legislator – very diligent and extremely pro-life. We brought a draft of the Prenatal Protection Act to Rep. Allen in 1998, and he loved the idea of protecting unborn babies as much as the Supreme Court would allow. He filed bills in 1999, 2001, and again in 2003. In 2003 he got 90 members of the House to endorse this bill – both Republicans and Democrats – well more than 76 needed for a majority.
Many times, my team and I worked with Rep. Allen and his staffers, particularly his chief of staff, Scott Gilmore, to strategize over the years. He was always very patient with us.
Before Rep. Allen was an elected official, he created the idea of the field of 4,400 crosses, representing the babies who, in the 1980s, died each day of abortion in this country (the number is much smaller now as the annual number of abortions has plummeted). And he set up the first field of crosses on the National Mall in Washington DC. That idea spread across the nation as hundreds of pro-life organizations and churches set up their own fields of crosses and have continued for decades.
Representative Allen made an indelible mark in Texas and the nation, and no doubt countless lives have been protected because of him.
We offer our condolences to the family of Ray Allen.