Why HB896 For Texas?

Our desire is to protect all innocent life. HB 896 is a culmination of the work of many Christians across the state of Texas that share one desire - to repent of abortion and make it unthinkable in our state.  We believe that every life is made in the image of God and is precious, which is why we are calling on our elected officeholders to be the first in the nation to protect the unborn like they deserve and equal protection demands. Roe v. Wade began in Texas; it can and should end here. This legislation is supported by a myriad of individuals who believe that through peaceful civic engagement we can do what many deem impossible.

We hope the information below is helpful and equips you with a better understanding of this bill and the process.  We also hope that it inspires you to help us enlist more Texans in arguably the most important civic calling of our age: to give equal protection to the most innocent and vulnerable among us--the preborn children of Texas.

Q1

What does the bill do?

A. Life begins at conception. In fact, Texas law already defines an individual human person to include an unborn child from the moment of conception. HB 896 takes that fact to its logical conclusion to protect all unborn children.

As President Trump said in his State of the Union speech, “All children--born and unborn--are made in the holy image of God.” HB 896 would treat all human life, born and unborn, as equally valuable and sacred by ensuring equal protection for all.*

Our Republican party principles state, “We believe in the sanctity of innocent human life, created in the image of God, which should be protected from fertilization to natural death.” HB 896 would apply that principle and the Republican priority to abolish abortion by refusing to enforce Roe v. Wade because it deprives an unborn child of the right to life.

* A recent misconception and scare-tactic used by some is that the bill would “sentence women who have abortions to death,” but that is not true, as discussed below.

Q2

How would the bill be enforced if it passed?

A. Ultimately, there should be little enforcement needed. All of the law-abiding citizens who currently get or do abortions would stop once it became illegal, and the bill does not apply to abortions done before the bill becomes law. The bill also would not apply to anyone who is forced into an abortion, to someone who had a reasonable mistaken belief about what they were doing, or to situations involving necessity, such as physicians trying to save the lives of both mother and child but prioritizing care based on triage.

For the few abortions that might continue, the job of enforcing the law would be handled by our justice system, which would look something like this:

Law enforcement would decide whom to investigate and, if necessary, whom to arrest, if anyone.

If law enforcement arrested someone, prosecutors would decide whether or not to prosecute, whom to prosecute, whether to take the case to a grand jury, what to charge someone with, and whether or not to give someone immunity. For example, the bill would motivate a mother to testify against the abortionist and she would be given immunity for doing that.

If prosecutors did bring charges, judges and juries would then decide whether someone is guilty or not, what they are guilty of, if anything, and what the penalty should be.

From there, appellate courts would decide whether the law was applied correctly.

Finally, the governor of Texas would decide whether or not to grant a pardon, a reprieve, or to commute the sentence.

In this entire process, the idea that all of these members and institutions of our justice system would unite to unanimously agree to order the death penalty for an abortive mother is so unlikely as to be absurd. HB 896 certainly would not require that result. All that the bill would do is remove discriminatory provisions and apply the same equal protections to people before they are born as they get after they are born. If unborn children are equally valuable, they should receive equal protection. If abortion is wrong for anyone, it should be wrong for everyone.

Q3

How would the bill be enforced if it passed?

A. No. The committee has until May 6 to vote to favorably report the bill to the Texas House of Representatives.  Chairman Leach can call a vote any time his committee meets for the duration of this legislative session.

Q4

I heard that if the bill author just changed the bill on one point that it could still pass. Is that true?

A. Those who do not want the blame for stopping the bill that would stop abortion in Texas this year want everyone to believe that if the bill author just changed the bill on one point that it could still pass, but that’s not true.

If the chairman and other committee members were truly committed to passing the bill except for one point, they have the power to submit amendments or even to adopt an entire committee substitute without the consent of the bill author. In other words, if the committee were interested in outlawing even most abortions this session, they could amend the bill to take out the part they do not like and then approve it. That kind of amendment could also happen on the House floor, where it would be expected to pass easily. The bill author is not preventing the committee or the rest of the House from doing any of that if their sincere desire were really to abolish abortion in Texas this session.

The real story is that Republican leadership does not want a bill that would end even most abortions to get a vote either in this committee or on the House floor.  If they did want that, the committee would have already just changed the bill themselves.

Q5

What can we be doing?

Spread the word. The only way that we can save lives and impact this legislation is to get our friends, family, churches, and neighbors involved. If chairman Leach blocks this bill from being voted on it will effectively be a death sentence 110,000 preborn children in the State of Texas over the next two years.  Please encourage people to sign the petition and contact their elected officeholders (insert link here). Thank you!

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Q2

How would the bill be enforced if it passed?

A.    Ultimately, there should be little enforcement needed. All of the law-abiding citizens who currently get or do abortions would stop once it became illegal, and the bill does not apply to abortions done before the bill becomes law. The bill also would not apply to anyone who is forced into an abortion, to someone who had a reasonable mistaken belief about what they were doing, or to situations involving necessity, such as physicians trying to save the lives of both mother and child but prioritizing care based on triage (some of these things do not need to be in the text of the bill because they already exist in statute and would automatically apply when the bill became law).3

For the few abortions that might continue, the job of enforcing the law would be handled by our justice system, which would look something like this:

Law enforcement would decide whom to investigate and, if necessary, whom to arrest, if anyone.

If law enforcement arrested someone, prosecutors would decide whether or not to prosecute, whom to prosecute, whether to take the case to a grand jury, what to charge someone with, and whether or not to give someone immunity. For example, all prosecutors would likely give the mother immunity to testify against the abortionist and the bill would motivate her to do that.

If prosecutors did bring charges, judges and juries would then decide whether someone is guilty or not, what they are guilty of, if anything, and what the penalty should be.

From there, appellate courts would decide whether the law was applied correctly.

Finally, the governor of Texas would decide whether or not to grant a pardon, a reprieve, or to commute the sentence.

It is true that the bill would apply our same justice system to protect unborn people that applies to protect born people. However, the idea that all of these members and institutions of our justice system would unite to unanimously agree to order the death penalty for an abortive mother is extremely unlikely. HB 896 certainly would not require that result. All that the bill would do is remove discriminatory provisions and apply the same equal protections to people before they are born as they get after they are born. If unborn children are equally valuable, they should receive equal protection. The bill does not single out mothers. It applies to everyone who promotes or assists with the abortion, including a boyfriend, husband, parent, or anyone else who solicits, encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid in committing the abortion.4 If abortion is wrong for anyone, it should be wrong for everyone.

Q1

What does the bill do?

A.    Life begins at conception. In fact, Texas law already defines an individual human person to include an unborn child from the moment of conception.1 HB 896 takes that fact to its logical conclusion to protect all unborn children.

As President Trump said in his State of the Union speech, “All children--born and unborn--are made in the holy image of God.” HB 896 would treat all human life, born and unborn, as equally valuable and sacred by ensuring equal protection for all.*

Our Republican party principles2 state, “We believe in the sanctity of innocent human life, created in the image of God, which should be protected from fertilization to natural death.” HB 896 would apply that principle and the Republican priority to abolish abortion by refusing to enforce Roe v. Wade because it deprives an unborn child of the right to life.

* A recent misconception and scare-tactic used by some is that the bill would “sentence women who have abortions to death.” However, the bill cannot sentence anyone to anything and would not require the death penalty, as discussed below.

A.    No. The committee has until May 6 to vote to favorably report the bill to the Texas House of Representatives.9  Chairman Leach can call a vote and members can vote anytime the committee meets until after May 6.

Q5

Is the bill already dead?

Q4

I heard that if the bill author removed the equal protection part that the bill could still pass this year. Is that true?

A.    Those who do not want the blame for stopping the bill that would stop abortion want everyone to believe this, but it's not true.

If the chairman and other committee members were truly committed to passing the bill except for one point, they have the power to submit amendments or even to adopt an entire committee substitute without the consent of the bill author.8 In other words, if the committee were interested in outlawing even most abortions this session, they could amend the bill to take out the part they do not like and then approve it. That kind of amendment could also happen on the House floor, where it would be expected to pass easily. The bill author is not preventing the committee or the rest of the House from doing any of that if their sincere desire were really to abolish most abortion in Texas this session, even without equal protection.

The real story is that Republican leadership does not want a bill that would end even most abortions to get a vote either in this committee or on the House floor.  If they did want that, the committee would have already just changed the bill themselves.

8. Tex. H.R. Rule 4, §§ 39 and 40, Tex. H.R. 4, 86th Leg., R.S., 2019 H.J. of Tex. 27, 153. See also Id. § 42.

Q6

What can we be doing?

A.    Spread the word. The only way that we can save lives and impact this legislation is to get our friends, family, churches, and neighbors involved. If Chairman Leach continues to lead the charge to block this bill from being voted on it will effectively be a death sentence for 110,000 preborn children in the State of Texas over the next two years.  Please encourage people to sign the petition and contact their elected officeholders. Thank you!

To Chairman Leach and committee members:

Please give HB 896 a vote and vote to approve it.

WHEREAS, abortion in Texas kills 150 children every day, a clear violation of God's law and the moral foundations of Texas and all of America; and

WHEREAS, the abominable practice of abortion is directly contrary to the principles of both the Constitution of the State of Texas and the U.S. Constitution; and

WHEREAS, Texans can no longer stand by and allow the killing of babies for profit by such organizations as Planned Parenthood; and

WHEREAS, the most compassionate thing Texans can do is to end the slaughter, provide help for those hurting, and mend the evil of abortion.

THEREFORE, I urge you to publicly support HB 896, the bill to end abortion in Texas by scheduling a committee vote, publicly pledging to vote for the bill, and voting for it.

HB 896, the bill to end abortion in Texas, has had a hearing in the Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee.

But it will die soon unless Chairman Jeff Leach schedules the bill for a vote and the committee members vote to approve it.

Sign your petition now urging Chairman Leach to schedule the bill for a vote, and for all the committee members to vote to approve HB 896!

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Q3

Why is equal protection so important? Why does the law need to apply equally to everyone?

A.    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” - U.S. Declaration of Independence

In addition to this most basic principle, there are three primary reasons why equal protection is important.

From the moment of conception at fertilization, all men and women are created equal—of equal value because they are made by God in His image5—and should be equal before the law.

6. Second Oral Argument at 10:21, Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) (No. 70-18, October 11, 1972) (transcript accessible at https://www.supremecourt.gov/ pdfs/transcripts/1972/70-18_10-11-1972.pdf, pp. 20-21; audio accessible at https://www.oyez.org/cases/1971/70-18; audio also accessible at https://www.c-span.org/video/?55899-1/roe-v-wade-1972-oral-arguments).

(1) Denying equal protection led to Roe v. Wade.

Mothers in Texas have been excluded from laws prohibiting abortion since at least 1857. The attorney for Jane Roe used this fact against Texas in her oral arguments:

Weddington: "[Mothers] are not subject in Texas to any kind of criminal prosecution. Whether the woman performs self-abortion, whether she goes to a doctor, finds someone who will perform it on her, she is guilty of no crime whatsoever. And yet, the state tries to allege that its purpose in this statute was to protect the fetus. If that’s true, the fact the woman is guilty of no crime does not reasonably follow."6

In its opinion, the Supreme Court agreed that Texas was being inconsistent by calling a fetus a person but not treating a fetus like a born person:

"When Texas urges that a fetus is entitled to Fourteenth Amendment protection as a person, it faces a dilemma. Neither in Texas nor in any other State are all abortions prohibited. Despite broad proscription, an exception always exists… There are other inconsistencies between Fourteenth Amendment status and the typical abortion statute. It has already been pointed out, n. 49, supra, that in Texas the woman is not a principal or an accomplice with respect to an abortion upon her. If the fetus is a person, why is the woman not a principal or an accomplice? Further, the penalty for criminal abortion specified by Art. 1195 is significantly less than the maximum penalty for murder prescribed by Art. 1257 of the Texas Penal Code. If the fetus is a person, may the penalties be different?"7

A pro-life advocate today who says they want to ban abortion, but at the same time wants to deny equal protection by creating exceptions to that ban, is undermining their own argument in the same way that Texas and other states did with their laws pre-Roe. Continuing to write legislation that denies equal protection will not undermine Roe, it will only reinforce it. To adequately answer the logical reasoning of Roe, our laws must apply equally to everyone—born and unborn. We got Roe by being inconsistent; we will only get out of Roe by being consistent.

5. Genesis 1:27

7. Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 157-58 n. 54 (1973).

(2) Denying equal protection dehumanizes and devalues preborn children.

In 1857, another group of people made in the image of God were called “persons” by Texas law but denied equal protection:

"A slave or free person of color when tried for a penal offence, is in law a person, but his personal rights are to be controlled by the provisions of this Part of the Penal Code, and are subject to rules different from those which would be applied in the case of a free white person, arising from the peculiar position of these classes of persons in society."

We must not continue to repeat the error and sins of our forefathers. It is dehumanizing to call someone a person while our laws fail to provide them with the same protection as other persons. If unborn children truly are persons, as our law already says,1 they are entitled to the same protections as all other persons—equal protection.

(3) Outlawing abortion without equal protection would promote "coat-hanger" abortions.

Some people oppose abortion in general but say they would only support a bill outlawing it if the bill excluded every abortive mother from the possibility of ever being prosecuted. However, that would continue to allow abortions committed by the mother acting alone. In other words, the only “legal” abortion under such a bill denying equal protection would be a do-it-yourself abortion. A bill like that should really be called the “Coat-Hanger Abortion Promotion Act” because of where it would push demand for abortions. Instead of channeling demand for abortions toward “coat-hanger” abortions by allowing them, all abortions should be prohibited and the equal protections of our laws should apply to everyone--born and unborn.