By Samantha Farnsworth, Texas Right to Life
After Pro-Life concerns not being heeded in the House, the Texas Senate must amend a seemingly Pro-Life bill to ensure Texas moms have crucial medical coverage without unintentionally incentivizing illegal and out-of-state abortions.
House Bill 12 by Representative Toni Rose (D–Dallas) and sponsored by Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R – Brenham) would extend medical insurance coverage to low-income mothers in Texas from two months after giving birth to a full year after birth. This is an important goal since the Pro-Life movement is committed to building a world that is truly Pro-Life, both before AND after birth. This is one way our state can care for mothers who have chosen Life rather than abortion for their precious little ones.
While this is certainly an important Pro-Life policy in theory, the bill as drafted could actually end up being pro-abortion. In fact, as written, HB 12 would allow for a full year of coverage following an elective abortion, whether that abortion was done illegally in Texas or somewhere outside of the state.
The Texas Right to Life legislative team has raised this concern directly to elected officials in committee hearings in both the Senate and the House, as well as introducing several versions of amendments for members to offer on the House floor.
Unfortunately, those amendments were never offered or voted upon.
As the Senate moves forward with this bill, they need to amend it so that it protects both mothers AND children.
If this critical flaw is corrected, House Bill 12 can be a policy widely celebrated by Pro-Life Texans.
HB 12 comes at a pivotal time: Now that babies are protected from elective abortion from the moment of fertilization in Texas, more pregnancies will be carried to term and more babies will be born. Additionally, this policy is the number one recommendation from the Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee to help avoid preventable death or injury to Texas moms.
Last session, the Legislature passed a bill that extended the coverage to six months after birth. Tragically, the Biden Administration hypocritically rejected this extension.
Thirty-three other states have passed 12 months of coverage, with five more states planning to implement a 12-month extension in the near future. Texas needs this bill to catch up, and we need it to fully reflect our Pro-Life values.
Some Pro-Life Texans might initially balk at this bill for fiscal reasons. However, this policy actually reduces costs to the state in the long run because it enables mothers to access medical care in a timely manner, rather than delaying care until medical conditions become more detrimental and expensive. Almost all maternal deaths are preventable.
HB 12 is an important policy, but the bill must be amended to clarify that the coverage only applies after a delivery, natural miscarriage, or medically-necessary abortion done when the mother’s life is at risk.
If the Senate can address the pro-abortion language in the bill, this could be a victory for Life. If corrected, HB 12 will significantly contribute toward building a culture that respects life and honors motherhood, and demonstrates that Texas is committed to being truly Pro-Life in addition to being abortion-free.