One year ago today, I had the immense privilege of watching Governor Rick Perry sign House Bill 2 (HB2), one of the most significant pieces of pro-life legislation in Texas history. In addition to saving lives and protecting women’s health, its passage emphatically serves as a symbol of the rule of law, the will of a majority of Texans, and the capstone to more than a decade of passing pro-life legislation.
Women’s health and life issues are always a lightning rod in politics, but I never wavered in my resolve to get this bill through the Legislature because it was the right thing to do. Throughout my tenure as Lieutenant Governor, I've maintained the lives of the unborn and the safety of women’s health as a top priority. As a result, the legislature passed more pro-life legislation on my watch than in any other comparable period in Texas history. I am proud to have shepherded the Parental Notification Act, the Parental Consent Act, and the Women’s Right to Know Act onto the governor's desk. Texans should also be proud that no state funds are filtered to abortion providers.
Looking back on the heated rhetoric surrounding the passage of HB 2, it is useful to remember that the bill made Texas the 35th state to protect the preborn before six months and the 28th state to order the highest standards of care at abortion facilities. In addition, this bill which raised the standard of care at facilities providing abortion services was passed in a session during which we appropriated $179 million in new state funding for women’s health services including preventative care and screenings. The 83rd Legislature should be remembered for the advances we made in women's health.
In spite of support this bill enjoyed from legislators on both sides of the aisle and a majority of Texans, those opposed to its passage engaged in tactics that went far beyond the bounds of civic discourse required to forge consensus in a state as large and diverse as Texas. I was proud the way our Legislature handled the contentious bill during the special session, handling testimony and the final vote in an orderly and democratic way. The quality of the legislation has been proven repeatedly in the United States Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit. In short, the power of life has prevailed.
Rhetoric and details aside, the power of this effort was brought home to me earlier this year at Grace Community Church in Houston. Standing on the altar with my friend, Pastor Steve Riggle, I held a newborn whose life has been spared by the bill. (His mother, having passed the five month point of her pregnancy, chose adoption over abortion, fulfilling another couple's heartfelt desire for parenthood.) Holding this child in my arms and seeing the joy he'd brought to his adoptive parents really put the events of last summer in perspective.
Of all the legislative accomplishments of my twelve years in office, I am especially proud to know that a countless number of children will receive the gift of life, grow up in loving families, and leave their mark on our society. In the years to come, I hope Texans will continue their high regard for life and support for the health of Texas women.