The Republican Party of Texas (RPT) held their biennial convention last week to determine party rules, platforms, and legislative priorities. Among the eight legislative priorities approved by the delegates was the abolition of abortion. The wording of the priority reads: “Abolish abortion by ensuring the right to life and equal protection of the laws to all preborn children from the moment of fertilization.”
The priority is notable for a few reasons. First, for it’s use of “abolish.” The Abolitionist Movement has been gaining traction, making inroads in Christian denominations and state legislatures. Now the movement has successfully made its demand an official Republican legislative priority in the largest Republican-controlled state.
The second important distinctive of the legislative priority is the concept of “equal protection,” which is a mandate of the 14th amendment of the federal Constitution and of Article I Section III of the Texas Constitution. Equal protection necessitates that the murder of a preborn child would be treated in the same fashion as the murder of any other human being. Complete legal equality for preborn humans is what is being called for.
Constitutional attorney and Abolish Abortion Texas Director Bradley Pierce explained that equal protection means no exceptions and no automatic immunities for anyone in the murder of preborn humans: “Both before and after birth, human beings are made in the image of God. Therefore, the laws which protect those already born should, without exception, also protect those not yet born. No one, including the mother, should have a license to kill an innocent preborn child.”
The language of the legislative priority traces closely that of The Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act filed by Rep. Tony Tinderholt in 2017 and 2019, which reads: “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.”
During the 2019 legislative session, the bill had as many as 11 cosponsors and more than 300 people testified in favor at its committee hearing, which lasted until 2:58 a.m. Still, committee chairman Jeff Leach denied the bill a vote, and abortion was thus kept legal for at least two more years in the state.
According to Texas State Rep. Briscoe Cain, a cosponsor of the bill, the new legislative priority is a clear mandate to the Texas House and Senate to pass The Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act. “I wasn’t surprised that [abortion’s abolition] would be made a legislative priority, but what I’m really happy about is that it’s very clearly worded,” Cain said. “It’s simple and so there’s nothing else to read from it.”
Like Cain, Pierce emphasized the clarity of the connection of the legislative priority to the specific bill. “There is only one bill ever introduced in Texas which has met the standard called for by this legislative priority—the Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act,” he said.
Legislative priorities are not binding, but Cain said there are consequences for Republican legislators who ignore them. “As Republicans, our identity tends to be found in the platform which says what Republicans believe, and in the Texas Republican party, we have legislative priorities that are the commands of the grassroots,” Cain said. “With abolition being a clearly-written legislative priority, I expect more legislators to sign on [to The Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act]. They may do so willingly or because there’s a mandate from the grassroots… I think legislators who don’t support it will find many upset constituents who are able to point to the Texas Republican legislative priorities and say ‘why didn’t you support this?’ After the legislative session, Republican legislators who rebuffed the grassroots will have a lot of questions to answer.”
Former Congressman Lt. Col. Allen West was elected as the RPT’s chairman during the convention. West has already put out a statement on social media in favor of abolition: “If a bill were introduced that would abolish abortion – saving the lives of unborn babies, beginning at conception – I would speak in full support,” West wrote.
With abolitionist momentum building and a new standard being established for what is expected from anti-abortion politicians, Texas Republican legislators can’t refuse to abolish abortion any longer without imperiling their careers. But more important than fearing grassroots constituents is fearing God. To have the bill to abolish abortion before you and not support it is a sin. Delays and excuses are unacceptable. It’s time for Texas legislators, Governor Greg Abbott, and Attorney General Ken Paxton to obey God, uphold the Constitution, and provide equal protection to preborn humans.