The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops was "thrilled to report" the state Senate passed several pro-life bills supported by the conference, executive director Jennifer Allmon said March 31.
"These include our top priorities, the Chemical Abortion Safety Protocol, S.B. 394, and the Human Life Protection Act, S.B. 9. We have great hope that these bills, which provide further protections for women and unborn children, will become law," she added in a message in the Texas Catholic Voice, the online news outlet of the Austin-based conference.
On March 30, the Texas Senate approved seven bills restricting access to abortion; one of the measures bans abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturns 1973's Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide. Now the measures must be taken up by the Texas House of Representatives.
The approved bills are:
-- Heartbeat Act, S.B. 8, bans abortions after the child's heartbeat is detectable, which could be as early as six weeks of pregnancy. The bill has an exception for medical emergencies but not for rape or incest.
-- Trigger Abortion Ban Act, S.B. 9, which would outlaw most abortions and would take effect if Roe is overturned. Texas would only abortions if the pregnancy threatens the mother's life.
-- Regulating Abortion-Inducting Drugs Act (or Chemical Abortion Safety Protocol), S.B. 394, would prohibit chemical or "pill-induced" abortions after seven weeks. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's guidelines approve the use of abortion pills up to 10 weeks. The bill also would ban people from receiving abortion medication by mail.
-- Stop Taxpayer-Funding of Abortion Logistical Support Act, S.B. 650, would bar local city governments from funding "logistical support" for those seeking an abortion, such as money for child care, travel to or from an abortion provider, housing, food and counseling that may encourage a women to have an abortion.
-- Every Mother Matters Act, S.B. 802, would require a third party under contract with Texas Health and Human Services to offer a consultation and inform a woman seeking an abortion of available resources before she undergoes the procedure.
-- Preborn Non-Discrimination Act, S.B. 1173, would ban abortions "on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, probability or confirmed diagnosis of Down syndrome, or probability or diagnosis of a disability." It also would ban abortions in the third trimester of pregnancy unless there is a medical emergency.
-- Texas Abolition Strategy Act, S.B. 1647 combines the provisions of S.B. 8 and S.B. 9.
Ahead of the votes, the Texas affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union condemned the state Senate and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate, for considering the bills.
Patrick "continues to push his extreme agenda by forcing seven anti-abortion bills through the Texas Senate," said Drucilla Tigner, policy and advocacy strategist for the ACLU of Texas, in a statement. "Most Texans believe abortion should be legal, yet Lt. Gov. Patrick has made banning abortion a top priority."
Tigner said the Senate "should stop peddling" what she called Patrick's "extreme agenda" and "instead focus on the real crises facing Texans."
Texas Right to Life praised the Senate's action, saying the state "has taken unmatched historic action to defend human life."
"Today is a proud day in the history of our great state. Texans should take immense pride in being the first state to take such bold legislative action to protect preborn children and abolish abortion," the pro-life organization said in a statement.