AUSTIN, Texas — More than 70,000 petitions calling for the governor of Texas to make outlawing abortion an “emergency item” for the new legislative session were delivered to Gov. Greg Abbott’s on Monday. However, the governor did not mention the issue of abortion at all during his “State of the State” address on Tuesday, but rather chose five other emergency items as his focus.
“Over 70,000 petitions have been signed over the last 39 days,” announced Bradley Pierce of Abolish Abortion Texas during a press conference. “90 percent of those are Texans. … The last four days, more than 4,000 people a day have been signing this petition.”
As previously reported, last June, Gov. Abbott called Jeremiah Thomas, a 16-year-old boy who was fighting osteoblastic osteosarcoma, as Thomas wanted to talk to Abbott about passing a bill to abolish abortion in the state of Texas as his dying wish. Thomas died in August.
“For my wish, I wanted to talk to you and discuss a bill of abolition,” he explained, while speaking from his hospital room at McLane Children’s Hospital. “[W]e want you to treat abortion like an act of murder that should be punished by law.”
“I know that it must be difficult standing against a whole federal beast that forces abortion on us, but I think that we … could end abortion here and now,” Thomas said.
Abbott’s response made Thomas smile. He noted that the Texas Republican party platform expresses a desire to abolish abortion, and that lawmakers planned on putting forward a bill that would make abortion illegal in the state.
“Your wish is on the Republican party platform and it’s what we’re going to be pursuing this next legislative session—that’s to outlaw abortion altogether in the state of Texas,” he told Thomas, the recording of which was posted to social media. “And so, your wish has been granted.”
The legislation referenced by Abbott is that of Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, who similarly presented a bill in 2017 to abolish abortion, but it was stalled by the speaker of the House. Tinderholt has re-filed his bill for the 2019 legislative season.
Tinderholt told reporters upon first filing the measure that the bill is in response to language in the Texas Republican Party platform, which was passed in May 2016, calling for the complete abolition of abortion in the state.
“We call upon the Texas legislature to enact legislation stopping the murder of unborn children; and to ignore and refuse to enforce any and all federal statutes, regulations, executive orders, and court rulings, which would deprive an unborn child of the right to life,” the platform text reads.
As the Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act, House Bill 948, was again put forward with the new legislative session, a campaign was launched in late December to urge Abbott to get behind the effort and make the matter an “emergency item.”
However, during his state of the state address on Tuesday, Abbott did not mention the issue of abortion at all, but according to the Dallas Morning News, he rather chose five other focuses for his emergency items: school finance, teacher pay, school safety, caps on property tax increases, and improving state response to natural disasters in light of Hurricane Harvey.
“[N]ot only did he not mention Jeremiah, not only did he not mention … [the bill presented] to outlaw abortion in Texas, he did not mention the 55,000 preborn children who are killed in the state every year whatsoever,” Pierce commented in an online video, recorded from the state capitol building. “We’re disappointed.”
“He said today that Texas is the most powerful state in the Union. While the governor of New York is leading the country in hating the lives of the unborn, the governor of the most powerful state in the Union …. is leading the nation by leading us in doing nothing to save those lives of the 55,000 preborn children in Texas and the million children in this country who are being killed every year,” he said.
Pierce expressed a hopefulness that the governor would still get behind Tinderholt’s bill in some way, and added that his hope is not in man, but in God.
“I believe that Roe v. Wade is unconstitutional,” he also opined during Monday’s press conference. “Where the Supreme Court has ignored the Constitution, then we are duty-bound to ignore the court.”