By Andrew Bair, Field Coordinator, National Right to Life
Amid echoes of the frenzied shouting of opponents in the Capitol Rotunda, the Texas Legislature finally passed House Bill 2, a pro-life omnibus bill extending legal protection to pain-capable unborn children at 20 weeks and reigning in a virtually unregulated abortion industry.
A 19-11 vote by the Senate came moments after midnight, meaning both houses had now passed the measure and was on its way to pro-life Gov. Rick Perry who said he would sign the bill into law.
I was honored to witness the final vote in the Senate gallery and serve in the trenches this week with our friends at Texas Right to Life, the state affiliate of National Right to Life. No amount of unruly mob behavior was going to halt the momentum for life in Texas.
We stood firmly yet peacefully in our convictions even as the opposition’s protests descended into utter chaos.
Several pro-life lawmakers reported receiving death threats and violent messages on social media as the battle raged. On Friday, there were reports that officers had confiscated paint and jars of feces and urine from pro-abortion protesters, which they had intended to bring into the Capitol. More than a few pro-lifers were hustled off into rooms where they were protected by police officers.
There have been legislative battles over abortion before and there will be more in the future. For me, this current debate in Texas revealed a fundamental truth about both the pro-life movement and pro-abortion movements.
What compels us to speak out for the voiceless unborn child is love. What compels us to extend a caring hand to a mother facing difficult circumstances is love. What compels us to comfort the grieving post-abortive woman is love. We are a movement of love.
That love also informs the way we act toward their opponents. In Texas, we held signs, we sang, we prayed and we bore silent witness to the cause we hold so dear. There were no bullying tactics, arrests, ad hominem attacks, or violent threats directed toward pro-abortion lawmakers.
Not so for the opposition. Instances of bullying and name-calling, and vile language were everywhere, but the attempts at intimidation were not enough to stop pro-life lawmakers from doing the job Texans had elected them to do. Consistent polling shows that 62% of Texans (similar to the nation as a whole) back legislation to protect pain-capable unborn children from abortions at 20 weeks.
The pro-life movement should be very proud of this victory, which came less than three weeks after a combination of filibuster and mob behavior derailed initial passage of the bill. We assembled in peace, we witnessed in love and together we achieved passage of protective legislation that will save an untold number of lives. We did it without screaming and intimidation.
But then again, that is the character of the pro-life movement. We are a movement of love and love always prevails.