A bill which would abolish abortion in Texas is primed to begin moving through the State House. TX HB896 was referred to the Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee chaired by Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) who cosponsored an identical bill last session. Also on the committee is Rep. James White (R-Hillister), one of HB896’s nine cosponsors.
The bill would define life as beginning at conception. “A living human child, from the moment of fertilization on fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum, is entitled to the same rights, powers, and privileges as are secured or granted by the laws of this state to any other human child.”
It also strips other political bodies of the power to legalize abortion in Texas. The state’s Attorney General would be required to “monitor this state’s enforcement of [state homicide and assault codes] in relation to abortion. The attorney general shall direct a state agency to enforce those laws, regardless of any contrary federal law, executive order, or court decision.”
State subdivisions, such as counties and municipalities, will also be required to enforce those laws regardless of any contrary federal law, executive order, or court decisions.
HB896’s author, Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington), grounds Texas’ authority to outlaw abortion and demand the cooperation of its political subdivisions in the US and State Constitutions. “Any federal law, executive order, or court decision that purports to supersede, stay, or overrule this Act is in violation of the Texas Constitution and the United States Constitution and is therefore void.”
The Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence committee is made up of five Republicans and four Democrats meaning the bill could pass with a party-line vote. The bill needs support from Republican State Reps. Matt Krause (Fort Worth), Morgan Meyer (Dallas), and Reggie Smith (Sherman) to go along with Leach and White, who presumably plan to support the bill.
Unfortunately, in Indiana and Oklahoma, some Republicans have killed bills which would have ended abortion if passed. (See this article for an explanation of why some Republican leaders, as well as National Right to Life, oppose bills which abolish abortion.)
In Texas, committee chairs have full control over which bills get hearings and which don’t. If Leach wants to make sure the bill gets the five votes it needs to pass out of committee, he can commit to not hear any bills until HB896 is passed through the committee.
This tactic, while being heavy handed, has been employed by Texas State House committee chairs in the past. If there were ever a bill worth forcing your committee members’ hands, the abolition of abortion is it. As someone who supported standing up to the US Supreme Court in the past, it seems likely that Leach would also be prepared to stand up to his lower-ranking committee members.
Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that, though. If Krause, Meyer, and Smith have more fortitude than Republicans in Indiana and Oklahoma, Texas will be one step closer to abolishing the killing of human beings in the womb.