More than 300 people testified on Monday evening in favor of a bill that would outlaw abortion in Texas in a legislative hearing that lasted for over eight hours, continuing into the night to 3 a.m. Pastors, women who have had abortions, fathers who regretted taking their girlfriend for an abortion, men and women who could have been aborted themselves, and children who wanted to speak out behalf of the babies all addressed the House committee.
Some of the testimonies were personal and tearful in sharing their own stories, and others simply exhorted the five Republicans and four Democrats to do what is right in the eyes of God and advance House Bill 896 to the full House.
“Since when has killing any human being been legal?” “Our Constitution never said that murder is a right or a privilege.” “Why does size matter? A human being is a human being.” These were among the many points made during the hearing at the state capitol before the House Committee on Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence.
“I don’t have any aunts or uncles. I did, but … they were both aborted,” one woman tearfully testified. “I don’t know why my grandmother gave my dad life, [but] I’m here today because of that. If he was aborted, I wouldn’t be here. I just think of those cousins I could have had, and those aunts and uncles — they’re not here.”
“When I was 15 years old, I went into an abortion clinic in Houston, Texas, and I paid someone to murder my child,” a pastor’s wife shared. “No one forced me. I made the choice on my own and stood guilty before God with my child’s blood on my hands. The only thing that convinced me to do it was our laws that allow us to murder our children. Please stop this. I’m begging you.”
Another pastor’s wife testified that she became pregnant while on birth control, and the birth control killed her baby. She said she did not know she was pregnant until she went into severe cramping and the tiny baby fell out of her.
“What I saw next will forever be seared on my heart. What I was holding in my hands had little arms, a little body and little legs,” she recalled with deep emotion. “Unbenounced to me, I had been pregnant. The realization turned to shock, and the shock turned to grief.”
“I stand before you today as a 31-year-old woman without a womb. I am childless because I believed what doctors told me, and as a result, my ability to have biological children has been taken from me,” the pastor’s wife mourned.
“Please pass this bill so that young women are no longer fooled by doctors into making the worst of decisions that they can never change. Ignore Roe. It does nothing but harm.”
One woman testified who had an abortion and had been left barren as a result. She adopted a baby girl who had been conceived in rape, and that child has now grown up and given her four grandchildren.
“We’re aborting generations, and we’re aborting them based on having told young women lies,” she grieved.
Another woman who had been raped lamented having an abortion, stating that she was wrong to think “that ripping apart my child would end my suffering.”
“She did not deserve the death penalty I and my government paid [her] for this crime,” she stated.
One man is who now active in pro-life ministry expressed regret for consenting to his girlfriend’s abortion as a teenager, noting that losing the child “ruined her life.”
“If I had told her that I would stand by her, she would not have done it. But I was a selfish, cowardly man at that time in my life,” he testified. “I turned my back on her and I turned my back on my own child. I’m thankful to God for His great mercy and His grace.”
A woman similarly shared that abortion caused her to spiral into a depression, quoting from Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
“I found myself in the deepest, darkest hole that seemed inescapable,” she recounted. “I took drugs and it caused a seizure. I woke up in the emergency room with the doctor telling me ‘You could have died.’ I couldn’t help but wish I didn’t wake up.”
“I have lived my life for 17 years in silence from the shame and the guilt I have carried,” she stated candidly. “[But] I am no longer a slave to my past, and that is why I am silent no more.”
Another woman testified that she had found herself pregnant as a youth as she had been “looking for love to ease [her] broken heart” after losing her parents at age 7 and 15. During her first two years of college, she also had two abortions, and spent the decades ahead feeling guilt and shame.
“We’re all fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s own image. God is the only giver of life, and He never gave us the right to take a life. … Murder is sin,” she proclaimed. “So, I desire to spend the rest of my lifetime to make it right for others that they don’t go down this road. It’s a sad one. But because of the redemption of Jesus Christ, I know that I’m healed and set free.”
JUSTICE FOR THE UNBORN
Rep. Victoria Neave, D-Dallas, had argued early in the hearing that the bill would result in women being convicted of murder for seeking out an abortion, and they would thereby face the death penalty. She characterized the bill as killing women, and found it to be counteractive to the goal of ending murder.
Chairman Jeff Leach, R-Plano, told those gathered, “I hate abortion. I agree with everything that’s been said. To me, it is absolutely, unequivocally murder.” He quoted from the Book of Jeremiah, which states that God knew Jeremiah in his mother’s womb.
However, he also indicated that he was similarly wrestling with the idea of whether women who are pressured to obtain an abortion should face punishment.
“What about women who are trafficked and coerced into abortions?” he asked.
Rep. James White, R-Woodville and co-sponsor of the bill, stated that he had thought about the matter and pondered the responsibility of the men who push women to have their unborn child killed.
“Everybody has to stand before the Lord in judgment, but I am really grappling with these dudes that are driving these women, and husbands in some instances, compelling them and leaving them abandoned,” he said.
“So, there’s a lot of finger pointing to go around. There’s a lot of soul searching and navel-gazing,” White stated. “We need to look at this men, and all us of as men need to start stepping up and standing up, and being men too.”
Leach opined that White “hit the nail on the head,” asking, “I wondered, in this bill, should we make those men an accessory? Are they as culpable in the crime as the others? And if we’re going to go after them, we need to look there too.”
One commenter told the committee in support of leaving the bill as is, “Without consequences, there is no responsibility.” Another said that it can’t be true that all mothers who seek out an abortion are merely “victims and can’t be responsible for their crimes.”A third asked, “Without penalties, how is there protection?”
Others noted that whatever charge is applicable, or if the woman should be charged at all, would be at the discretion of the prosecutor, and juries would also have the ability to find a defendant innocent.
“It is for the courts and juries to weight the facts of each case to determine the party responsible for the murder of the baby,” one man stated. “A trafficked woman who is literally coerced into an abortion has zero culpability compared to the pimp or the abortionist. But, if this bill is passed, pimps would no longer have legal, nice looking facilities to hide their atrocities.”
“These exceptions where a mother can do something a father can’t do [they need to be removed],” a police officer urged. “A father, if he doesn’t want to accept responsibility of his child and slips pills into a drink, and takes the life of his child, that’s capital murder. A mother, [if] she slips a pill [and] doesn’t want to accept responsibility — down her throat, takes the life of an individual, it’s fine, pat on the back.”
“In law enforcement, how can we say this is just?” he asked. “Our hands our tied where we’re forced to be unjust in our dealings.”
Some outlined that while conducting ministry to abortion-minded mothers, they endure profanities and vulgarities, and that they believe the women know full well what they are doing.
One woman who converses with abortion-minded mothers online to urge them not to have their baby killed noted that the women are often resolute and callous. She provided screenshots as examples, noting that one woman said she didn’t want to be pregnant because they don’t want to be “fat,” and another joked about grinding the baby up in a blender.
One woman stated that years ago, mothers did coat-hanger abortions because they knew would not be charged for committing the act.
“In 1973, before Roe v. Wade, abortion was illegal, except that a mother could not be prosecuted. This caused the coat-hanger abortions, because it was illegal for the doctors but not the mother, and they thought they should get away with this,” she said. “HB 896 is rightly not retroactive.”
OPPOSING TESTIMONY FROM NARAL AND THE ACLU
Only five people testified against the bill, including a legislative intern from NARAL and a representative from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Leach asked the intern from NARAL, Jasmine Wang, if she believes in any limitations to abortion.
“No,” she replied forthrightly.
“So, at 39 weeks, you believe a woman should be able to terminate the life of her child?” Leach asked.
“If that is what is best, yes,” Wang responded.
“At 39 weeks, you believe she should be able to terminate the life of that child?” Leach pressed.
“Absolutely,” Wang answered. “I’m not in any position to speak for a woman and her personal decision. That is not my place; that is not anyone’s place in this room.”
“Who’s speaking for that 39-week old baby?” Leach asked.
“The mother,” Wang answered. “She will make the decision for her body, and what is best for her body and her life.”
“What about that baby?” Leach grilled. “I’m asking you about that baby, who’s living and breathing, her heart is beating. She feels pain, she recoils. … I am very, very disturbed at [your] testimony.”
He also scolded her and others in noting that he had witnessed them snickering as others were testifying, including those who have had abortions and are suffering in the aftermath.
“I cannot as the chairman of this committee put up with snickering or laughing or giggling when we’re dealing with literally life or death issues, and I don’t appreciate it,” Leach declared.
Drucilla Tigner, political strategist for the ACLU of Texas, also spoke against the bill, asserting that it is unconstitutional because it calls for the disregard of federal decrees contrary to the state law, and punishes women who need an abortion to save their life.
“[W]omen have abortions for lots of reasons. One of those reasons happens to be to save her own life. Lots of women have abortions when they are in conflict with a current medical condition or they cannot sustain labor,” she claimed.
As previously reported, a number of doctors and nurses have spoken out against the assertion that abortion is ever necessary to save a mother’s life, as the physician will simply perform an emergency Cesarean section and take the baby early. There is no need to kill the child in the process.
Leach noted that Tigner has appeared before the committee for three weeks in a row to testify in regard to pro-life bills.
INTERPOSITION ON BEHALF OF THOSE WHO CANNOT SPEAK
Over all, the hundreds of those gathered, sensing that a number of those on the committee agreed that abortion is murder, urged the men and women to do what is right in the eyes of God. Many quoted Scripture or reminded men of their duty before God as the lesser magistrate.
“I think you know that abortion is murder. I think you do want to end it. Failure to pass this bill out of committee is a death sentence” for children, one man exhorted.
“Who needs your help more than those who can’t speak for themselves, who are being ripped apart limb from limb by vacuums and forceps?” another asked.
“You have a chance to end this Holocaust. Let it be the beginning to the end of abortion in America,” a young teenage girl urged.
“History will record your names as those who either murdered babies or saved them,” another warned. “Remember your oath. Punish wickedness, protect the innocent, and not the opposite.”
“You are God’s deacon. You are the blood avenger,” a pastor exhorted, referring to Romans 13. “I am here to beg you to stop weidling that sword in vain.”
According to Chairman Leach, 502 people signed up to be witnesses, and 330 people were heard last evening into the overnight hours.
A vote was not taken following testimony, but could be forthcoming at any time.
As previously reported, House Bill 896, also known as the “Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act,” declares that life begins at conception, and grants the unborn the same rights that are entitled to born children.
“A living human child, from the moment of fertilization upon the fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum, is entitled to the same rights, powers, and privileges as are secured or granted by the laws of this state to any other human child,” the bill, introduced by Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, reads in part.
It asserts state sovereignty in that the legislation requires the attorney general to “monitor this state’s enforcement of Chapter 19, Penal Code [surrounding criminal homicide], in relation to abortion” and to “direct state agencies to enforce those laws regardless of any contrary or conflicting federal statutes, regulations, executive orders, or court decisions.”