WASHINGTON ― Emboldened by the election of Donald Trump, Republican state lawmakers in Texas kicked off the new legislative filing period on Monday with a trio of bills that would roll back abortion and LGBTQ rights.
State Rep. Byron Cook (R) proposed legislation that would require women to cremate or bury the remains of a fetus after an abortion or miscarriage. The bill, similar to one signed by Vice President-elect Mike Pence when he was governor of Indiana, threatens to fine health providers and remove their medical licenses if they don’t comply. Reproductive rights advocates said the bill has no medical purpose other than to shame a woman for ending her pregnancy.
A second abortion restriction, proposed by State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R), would remove an exception in the state’s 20-week abortion ban for severe fetal anomalies. So if a woman discovers after 20 weeks of pregnancy that her fetus has a life-threatening medical condition, such as a brain malformation, she would be forced to carry the pregnancy to term.
Texas legislators also plan to go after LGBTQ rights in the new legislative session, which begins on Jan. 10. State Sen. Bob Hall (R) introduced a bill that would prevent cities and counties in the state from enacting their own anti-discrimination policies based on sexual orientation or gender discrimination, since state law does not protect these groups, and would repeal local anti-discrimination ordinances that are already in effect. Having “uniform laws,” the bill explains, “will benefit the businesses, organizations, and employers seeking to do business in this state and will attract new businesses, organizations, and employers to this state.”
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) said the new slate of bills reflects the state’s commitment to “conservative values,” which was reinforced by Trump’s victory.
“Starting in 2017, we will have a friend in the White House who was clearly elected because the people of this country believe in the conservative principles that have guided the way we govern in Texas — life, liberty and lean government that promotes prosperity,” Patrick said. “I remain committed to those principles.”
Democratic lawmakers criticized the new agenda as “divisive,” and said they’re going to have “continue to be the grownups” in the legislature.
“We are going to do whatever we can to insert evidence-based policy making that respects the rights of all Texans,” said State Rep. Donna Howard (D).