Protesters stormed into the Austin Marriott South, where the Texas Right to Life’s annual Boots on the Ground Conference was being held. Texas Right to Life is non-profit advocacy and educational organization that opposes abortion, and its annual conference educates pro-life Texans and college students about various aspects of the pro-life movement such as abortion, medical ethics, and how to build a diverse pro-life community..
Texas Right to Life held its Boots on the Ground Conference on the same weekend as the Rally for Life at the State Capitol. This year marked the 49th anniversary of the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade. The conference hosted numerous speakers who spoke about topics including abortion, human trafficing, and in vitro fertilization (IVF). Attendees were there to get trained in the Pro-Life movement and energized for the rally, but they would find that those on the other side of the abortion have been energized as well.
Protestors entered the hotel lobby just before noon, shouting, “Working women, give them hell; it is right to rebel. We will defend abortion rights; working women, rise and fight!”
The dozen protesters carried a sign reading: “Working women lead the fight; safe abortions are our right!”
One woman lit a smoke bomb and threw it down the hallway towards the rooms holding the conference. Outside, a portion of hotel property was vandalized by the protesters as well. Luckily no one was injured on either side. Austin Police Department responded quickly to the protest, but there were no additional problems after the attack on Saturday, and no arrests have been made yet.
This is not the first protest at a Texas Right to Life event. In 2017, communist protesters attempted to disrupt a Texas Right to Life event, but they did not physically attack attendees like they did on this occasion.
The attack happenedas thousands of Texans were marching in support of life at the State Capitol and in celebration of the victory that the Texas Heartbeat Act has been for the pro-life cause. Texas Right to Life spearheaded the effort to pass the Texas Heartbeat Act.
The Texas Heartbeat Act has angered many abortion advocates. It bans abortions after a heartbeat is detected in the unborn child and thus prevents many abortions in Texas from legally occurring. Since it came into effect on Sept. 1, despite numerous failed attempts to have it struck down or enjoined, the Texas Heartbeat Act has saved an estimated 10,000-13,000 lives, according to Texas Right to Life. Already states like Alabama, Florida, Missouri, and Ohio are working to replicate the Texas Heartbeat Act.
Footage taken by Texas Right to Life and used in this article with the organization’s permission.
The past month saw legislative victories for pro-abortion activists up and down the East Coast. Vermont, New York, and Virginia all either passed or are currently in the process of passing new sweeping abortion laws allowing abortion up until birth and possibly after in the case of Virginia.
On the federal level, every Democrat in the Senate aside from Sen. Casey from Pennsylvania, Sen. Manchin from West Virginia, and Sen. Jones from Alabama voted to prevent the survivors of failed abortions who are born from being protected. This includes every Democrat in the Senate currently running for President.
I believe that the new abortion laws passed on the East Coast are a strategic blunder for Democrats in their attempt to retake the Presidency. The Trump elections, both 2016 and 2020 will be decided in the Midwest. The states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania will decide who the next President is, barring a Republican collapse in Arizona and Texas or a Democratic collapse in Minnesota and Colorado. Keep in mind that more historic blue states were in danger of being flipped in 2016 than did. Minnesota, Maine, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Colorado were all within striking distance for President Trump.
The legislative term during a divided Congress leading into a presidential election is often merely a game of chess between the leaders of the two parties to put their side in the best light going into the general election. With as polarized as the two parties are, nothing fundamentally transforming is going to come out of this congress. As we saw this year, they can barely keep the government open. Each side is trying to put the other in tricky voting situations that can be turned into attack ads in October of 2020 right before voters go to the polls.
This is where Democrats have made a strategic blunder on the abortion issue. The selling point for abortion used to be “safe legal and rare”. Now it has become “shout your abortion” and pushing the limits of the questionable science in support of abortion to its limits by demanding abortion be an option up to birth. There is no talking point on abortion that is actually a quality talking point, but safe legal and rare is as close as they get.
Now think back to the electoral map and voting behaviors. When it comes to voters, Democrats own the pro-abortion voter, these voters simply don’t have a reason to vote Republican. Regardless of which Democrat is nominated, they will win almost all of the pro-abortion votes in the United States, just like Hillary Clinton.
In politics, when you empower one group of interest voters, you upset a different group. By empowering abortion extremists inside the Democratic Party, Democrats continue to alienate the pro-life Democrats, specifically Catholic Democrats. It’s one thing to support abortion when the argument is safe legal and rare. Now, it’s a whole new ballgame.
By attempting to pacify its radical base with absurd and unnecessary expansions on abortion, Democrats could very well be gift wrapping the 2020 Presidential election for Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton didn’t lose the Midwest ‘blue wall’ in 2016 due to the lack of enthusiasm on the behalf of pro-abortion voters. She lost the Midwest because of the defection of pro-life blue collar democrats to the Donald Trump. By the posturing of the Democratic candidates currently running for President, they clearly haven’t learned from the 2016 election about the dangers of holding absurd positions on abortion. Unrestricted abortion is a line through the heart which moderate Democrats simply won’t allow to be crossed when it comes to the ballot box.
Ironically, extremism on the abortion issue by the Democratic Party could lead to it being banned, a goal shared by many conservatives including myself. Without digging too deeply into the age of Supreme Court justices, the two oldest are 85 and 80 both appointed by Democratic presidents and considered to be the leaders of the liberal wing. The current ideological split of the court is 5-4 in favor of the conservatives with Roberts being the swing vote. If both of those Supreme Court justices retire before the next Democrat president, the court could go as far as 7-2 in favor of conservatives.
If the 7-2 split is achieved, then pro-life organizations around the United States would rally to their respective state capitals to advocate for silver bullet bills designed to trigger legal challenges to Roe v. Wade. The new conservative court would likely side with the laws, throwing out Roe v. Wade and hopefully putting an end to the era of America’s second great mortal sin.
On Monday, February 25, Representative Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) filed House Bill 2434, styled the Preborn Non-Discrimination Act (PreNDA) by its proponents. The bill, and it’s Senate companion SB 1033 by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) would prohibit all abortions after 20 weeks except for those protecting the life of the mother, and abortions performed for reason of race, gender or disability.
In addition to protecting children before birth, PreNDA would also support pro-life medical and social services for pregnant women.
At the semiannual Republican Party of Texas (RPT) convention in San Antonio last summer, the RPT endorsed PreNDA as one of its legislative priorities. It is one of four pro-life priorities for the RPT during the 2019 Session. For the 2019 Texas Legislature, close to 9,000 Republican delegates support the bill as a priority for the Republican party.
In July 2013, the Texas Legislature passed the Preborn Pain Act, which protected children from being aborted after 20 weeks, as science has proven that babies at this stage in development can feel the pain of being aborted. However, while this act was a great step forward for the pro-life movement, it failed to protect unborn children suspected to have disabilities.
In 2015, Schaefer proposed an amendment that would have prohibited abortions on the basis that the fetus had a “severe and irreversible abnormality.” While the amendment received a majority of votes, it was stalled and later passed with significant changes.
The first coauthor on HB 2434 is freshman Rep. Jared Patterson (R-Frisco), followed by Rep. Jay Dean (R-Longview). The Senate version is jointly authored by Senators Campbell, Creighton, Hughes, Kolkhorst, Paxton, Perry, Taylor, and coauthored by Sen. Hall.
Photo: Rep. Schaefer speaking in support of Amendment 22 to Senate Bill 8, which would have been similar in effect to HB 2434. May 19, 2017.
January 26-27, the weekend of the Texas Rally for Life, Texas Right to Life, an organization dedicated to defending the rights of the unborn, the sick and the elderly, welcomed around 200 people to their Boots on the Ground two-day conference in Austin, Texas. This year, the theme of the conference was “Do No Harm” which centered around pro-life issues such as medical ethics, patients’ rights, assisted suicide, brain death and organ donation. A large number of college students attended this conference, from as diverse of schools as Lamar University, Our Lady of the Lake University, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Trinity University, and UT Austin.
A number of prominent pro-life speakers presented, including speaker Stephanie Gray, co-founder of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, who started off the conference on Saturday morning at the Brentwood Oaks Church of Christ with a presentation on assisted suicide and euthanasia, and the pro-life response to these issues. Since she was 18, Gray has already given over 800 presentations all over the world, even at prestigious universities such as Berkeley, George Washington University and Yale.
In her presentation, Gray spoke about better alternatives to assisted suicide, and how her audience could apply this to the outside world. “Suffering is present in order to unleash love,” she quoted from Pope St. John Paul II. “If you think about it, when do we step outside ourselves and help someone in need?… When someone feels like a burden… we ought to unleash that love, not our assistance with their death. Another reason people give for assisted suicide is that they feel that they’re useless. Again we acknowledge it’s a problem if someone feels their life is not worth living because they can’t do anything or much. The solution rather than assisted suicide ought to be helping them see their self-worth. At the end of the day, our value actually isn’t in our usefulness. It’s in who we are. First and foremost we are human beings and we’re human beings that can do, but even when we can’t do, if we are, we ought to be celebrated.”
Following Gray’s presentation, the attendees ate lunch provided by the conference, then proceeded to join the rest of the thousands marching for life to the capitol.
Bobby Schindler spoke after the rally. In 1990 his sister Terri Schiavo collapsed and was left with serious cognitive disabilities. Later on, her husband sought court permission to remove her food and hydration, which then led Schindler into a legal battle to defend his sister’s life. After Terri’s death, Schindler gave up teaching to become a full-time pro-life and disabilities rights advocate and is now President of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, which works to protect the lives of those in danger of being euthanized and to provide support to families whose loved ones are medically vulnerable.
“What happened to Terri is happening every single day in our nation and even locally,” Schindler said. He went on to explain how the feeding tube was reclassified as no longer basic care in the medical field but as a medical treatment. “It’s because of this reclassification that permitted this to happen… If they need a feeding tube and they’re not dying, then we’re morally obligated to care for them. Terri was never dying.”
“There’s a deep-rooted prejudice against people with disabilities. The perfect example of this is what is happening to down syndrome babies [in Iceland] when mothers find out their babies have down syndrome and abort. But what does that say? If we’re okay with killing a child on the basis of a disability before they’re even born, how do we feel about people with disabilities in our world?… A fundamental concept about human dignity is that we possess it regardless of our physical or mental condition… That’s why we need people like you in this fight willing to educate the public on what is happening in our culture today.”
The following morning, speakers presented on the dangers of the Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA), which includes a provision that allows hospitals to remove life-sustaining care from patients against their will after a ten days notice if the patient isn’t moved to a different facility.
“They don’t have to discuss their reasons for you– their prognosis for you,” Attorney Kassi Marks described the TADA process. “This is the worst law like this and it’s right in our backyard… Assuming for the sake of argument [regarding doctors’ conscience protection], why is the only way to assuage the doctor’s conscience to with care? Why not just transfer care to someone else? Why do we have to protect the doctor’s conscience by killing them [the patients]? Euthanasia– it doesn’t get enough attention it deserves. 100 percent of us are going to be presented with a loved one in the hospital.”
Lastly, that Sunday afternoon, Jan. 27, Chet McDoniel was the last to speak, seemingly ending the conference on a positive note despite being born with no arms and shortened legs. He spoke about his secret to enjoying life.
McDoniel now has a wife and three daughters, aged ten, six and three. “I believe each and every other person has the God-given right to be happy,” he said. “When we look at life [regarding the unborn], what do we see? Do we see what should be? Do we see what’s perfect? Or do we see potential?
“Stop playing the blame game. While we’re doing that, we’re not focusing on what to make better. No one is to blame for the way I look… It’s completely and truly an accident. I believe God is not responsible for that either. I’d miss out on life if I’d focus so much on [the] why… I can change the situation even if I was not the cause.
Next year’s conference theme is “UNITE PRO-LIFE,” and will focus on the diversity of the pro-life movement.