Sending a Tex Message on Life
Everything's bigger in Texas -- including the state's abortion restrictions. If leaders can beat the clock before their legislative session expires, there's a strong chance that Governor Rick Perry (R) will have the opportunity to sign off on one of the strongest pro-life laws in America. A sleep-deprived Texas House worked through the night, putting in a grueling 15 hours of debate until Republicans finally closed the amendment process and forced a vote on a measure that would outlaw abortions at the five-month mark, when babies feel pain.
Plenty of Texans came to watch the all-nighter, including a gallery so full that people spilled into the stairs and hallways. Just before 4 a.m., the ones who lasted the night finally witnessed what everyone had been waiting for: overwhelming consensus to ban abortions after 20 weeks. After such an emotional back-and-forth, protestors erupted. Security escorted several people out, while the remaining audience cheered. By an overwhelming 97-33 vote, the House gave its preliminary approval to a bill (much like the one the U.S. House passed last week) that would spare children the torture of abortion and ensure that women receive the safest care possible.
As part of SB 5, abortion clinics would also have to meet the certifications of surgical centers, meaning that most of the state's 42 abortion facilities would have to undergo expensive renovations (which, if they truly cared about women, already would have been made). Only doctors -- not clinic workers -- would be allowed to administer abortion drugs, monitor the patient's progress, and schedule at least one follow-up appointment.
For added safety, every doctor who performs abortions would have to have admitting privileges to a local hospital, which, as experts point out, is extremely rare for abortionists. Some hospitals object on religious grounds. Others try to avoid the political headache by refusing to grant those privileges altogether -- an obstacle that state abortion clinics will have a tough time overcoming. Planned Parenthood estimated that all but five of the state's clinics would shut down, which was met with some suspicion by pro-lifers who think the organization is just fear-mongering. Still, the impact would be enormous if the Texas Senate can race to approve the bill in the waning hours of the session.
House Democrats did everything they could to stall the proposal, which, under Texas law, must be approved a full 24 hours before it goes to the Senate. Around ten o'clock this morning, the state House voted the measure through for a second time, giving state senators until midnight on Tuesday to send it to the Governor's desk. And while Senate Democrats can stage a filibuster, Governor Perry is prepared to call the chambers back into session if they don't hold a vote. "Unless I'm misreading him," said Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, "we're going to be called back into special session again." Thanks to Perry's leadership, babies don't stand alone in the Lone Star State.
Meanwhile, Texans aren't the only ones celebrating summer victories. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), who -- unlike Rick Perry -- is trying to expand abortion, suffered an embarrassing defeat last week, when the state senate refused to consider a measure that would have overturned almost every restriction on late-term abortions. A coalition of state conservatives fought hard against the bill, which would have made New York's abortion policy among the most extreme in the nation.
ObamaCare vs. Faith: the August 1st Showdown
With five weeks to work, U.S. Senate conservatives got in on the act to protect pro-lifers from one of ObamaCare's most infuriating overreaches: the abortion-contraception mandate. Unless Congress intervenes, faith-based charities, businesses, schools, and hospitals have until the August 1st deadline to start covering drugs that violate their beliefs -- or else face crushing fines. Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Nebr.) and Dr. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) are putting more pressure on Congress to act by introducing the companion bill to Rep. Diane Black's (R-Tenn.) Health Care Conscience Act.
Churches of all denominations are united behind the bill, including Catholics and the Southern Baptist Convention, who signed a joint letter urging the House and Senate to end the administration's attack on our First Freedom. FRC also weighed in a few weeks ago, urging Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to attach protections to a must-pass piece of legislation. "A large portion of the nation's social services is provided by religious organizations which are not recognized as 'religious enough' under the terms of the mandate. Either such charities will cease offering health coverage or shut down altogether rather than violate their moral principles, or they will be compelled to use scarce resources to pay punitive fines, thus diverting funds intended to serve the poor." Do your part to defend religious freedom in America. Contact your Senators and ask them to cosponsor the Fischer-Coburn Health Care Conscience Act!
Gaining Wait: Court Puts off Marriage Rulings for Today
Shortly after 10 a.m., reporters who had been lining the Supreme Court steps packed up their cameras and headed to their cars. After staking out their spots for two of the most historic rulings of our lifetime, word spread that the justices would not be handing down their marriage decisions today. Instead, Americans will have to wait, bracing themselves for news that could change the course of our nation for generations.
Both the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Proposition 8 will be decided this week, potentially marking a turning point in how America views the family. Here at FRC, our experts are preparing for any number of scenarios -- including the possibility that Ken Klukowski mentions in his new Breitbart column, which is that the Court could dismiss one or both cases over jurisdiction questions.
In these last few days before the Court rules, there are ways you can prepare. Get equipped on the marriage message. Click over to FRC's 24-hour resource center for marriage information, including the booklet, What You Need to Know about Marriage and our documentary, The Problem with Same-sex "Marriage." Share the links with your family and friends on Twitter and Facebook. Then, support FRC financially as you are able and stay tuned for the legal analysis from FRC's experts, including Ken Klukowski, who co-authored an amicus brief in the case, Dr. Chris Gacek, and Peter Sprigg.
But between now and Friday, the most important thing you can do is pray. Pray for these nine justices, for our nation, and for the truth of marriage to prevail. Regardless of what happens, we stand together and never give up -- remembering that our hope comes from Him (Psalm 62:5).
** For the latest from Austin on the Texas abortion bill, click over to TonyPerkins.com for today's edition of "Washington Watch" at 5:00 p.m. (ET). FRC's Anna Higgins, Director of the Center for Human Dignity, will join us with more details about the legislation's progress. Also, stay tuned for a special update from the Hill, as Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) stops by with his insights on the House's Fatherhood initiative, the Defense Authorization bill, and the marriage rulings.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.