The good, the bad and the ugly during the 86th Texas Legislature
The attacks on abortion access were more extreme than ever before. Texas extremists filed over 40 anti-abortion bills this session. NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and progressive allies in the Trust. Respect. Access. coalition worked tirelessly these last 6 months testifying, meeting with lawmakers, and coordinating the fight against further abortion restrictions and oppressive policies in our state.
With your help, we defeated S.B. 1033 (Hancock) and S.B. 2243 (Paxton), and H.B. 1500 (Cain), H.B. 3605 (Capriglione), H.B. 2350 (Capriglione) and H.B. 896 (Tinderholt). These bills sought to restrict or ban abortions in various forms, blatantly signaling to all Texans that our lawmakers don’t trust us to make the right decisions for ourselves. In addition to defeating those bills, we also worked with our allies to protect LGBTQ+ rights, ensure continued integrity in our elections, and guarantee hardworking Texans paid sick leave.
We also introduced a robust series of proactive bills that sought to further protect and expand abortion access in Texas, address the hypocrisy of of the anti-choice movement, and draw attention to harassment or terrorism that is a commonplace consequence of anti-choice rhetoric and actions. Some proactive bills such as H.B. 1478 (Keep Bosses Out of the Bedroom Act), H.B. 1870 (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act), and H.B. 3282 / S.B. 2059 (Safe at Home/Privacy Act) filed this session help shed light on the growing challenges that abortion providers, clinics, and patients face as restrictions increase in our state. In a historic moment for our proactive agenda, we received a public hearing for H.B. 1478 by Representative Jon Rosenthal; and our staff had the opportunity to testify in favor of this bill which would protect employees from employment discrimination or unnecessary consequences as a result of their reproductive health decisions.
Despite these proactive measures, anti-abortion lawmakers were hellbent on turning lies into laws and advancing some of the most extreme legislation to date, but we fought back.
In the latest revision of the state budget (H.B. 1), Representative Matt Krause (HD 93, Fort Worth) introduced an amendment that would allow the Alternative to Abortion program (A2A) to receive $90 million towards funding crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). While the Representative could not speak to the efficacy of abortion alternatives, he said the re-routing of funds to CPCs was to promote a “culture of life,” despite the legislature refusing to pass legislation for Medicaid expansion. This negligent policymaking continues to target the most vulnerable communities, and leaves them excluded from healthcare that would actually support a “culture of life.” Representative Krause, among other policymakers who supported the A2A program, continue to show us that they are not interested in life, but are instead committed to enshrining their religious beliefs in policy that will harm marginalized communities.
Despite all our work to fight extreme legislation, S.B. 22 (Campbell), S.B. 24 (Lucio), and H.B. 16 (Leach) passed. SB 22 and 24 have been signed into law, and the inflammatory HB 16 is expected to be signed soon.
- SB 22 (Campbell) takes away cities, counties, and other public entities ability to enter into contracts with healthcare providers, thus diminishing local control.;
- SB 24 (Lucio) forces patients to receive state-mandated materials with anti-choice rhetoric and scientific falsehoods in person before they receive an abortion;
- HB 16 (Leach) promotes falsehoods about how abortion care happens, subjecting medical providers to harassment and prosecution.
Texans deserve access to the full range of reproductive healthcare, including abortion care. Anti-abortion extremists continued to advance their dangerous agenda at the expense of Texans. We know that the majority of Texas support abortion access. This is why it is more important than ever to recommit to join us in this fight, and hold our lawmakers accountable as we gear up for the midterms in 2020.