Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Testimony on the Preborn Non-Discrimination Act, SB 1033

I took this as we were leaving the Capitol Wednesday evening.
The mockingbird called to me and stayed put while I took its photo.

I'm preparing for my talk tonight at the University of North Texas in Denton hosted by the UNT Eagles for Life, but I wanted to put up a couple of quick posts with my oral and written testimony on the bills that were heard last Wednesday before the Senate Health & Human Services Committee as well as some other information. I have additional posts planned regarding last week, probably two or three more. Instead of doing some very long posts, I'm going to divide them up into groups of testimony by subject or theme. 

I want to start now, however, with the first pro-life bill we testified in favor of: the Preborn Non-Discrimination Act ("PreNDA"), Senate Bill 1033. You can read the text of the bill and follow its progress on Texas Legislature Online. I like this bill a great deal and think that it shows the humanity of all unborn, which we all so need to promote and help others understand. There are many exceptions to the 20-week abortion ban Texas put into place in 2015 and it amounts to nothing short of discrimination in many cases. That should not be. That's not pro-life. Importantly, the bill also provides some very real help for those facing such a pregnancy. I am always in favor of more information and more help to people facing any difficult situation and think we owe it to them. 

When I was working on my testimony at the hotel Tuesday night, I was in the business office trying to print my written testimony to submit. A man came in after midnight to do the same. I had a feeling he was "one of us." We started talking and he told me his story. Daniel Crawford and his wife, Kelly, faced such a pregnancy and carried their baby, Abel, to term knowing he was probably going to die soon thereafter. He did. But, as Daniel told me, "We loved him for 15 days before he went to be with our Lord." In the midst of that grief, they started an organization to help others facing similar circumstances, Abel Speaks. They were without much help, support, and information as they navigated their way through a devastating diagnosis. There is such beauty in what they did and in their testimony given before the Senate HHS Committee. 

The Crawfords were not alone. We heard from so many who did likewise.  You can see the entirety of the testimony here. Some were given grim diagnoses and recommendations for abortion and their sweet babies are now sweet children. Some have disabilities, but all are loved and valued and were given every chance at life. No preborn baby deserves anything less. Families facing this situation need support not a quick recommendation for abortion and no other information. That doesn't honor the unborn child's humanity or the parents either. Texas Right to Life reported on the testimony as well. 

Also important to the discussion is that babies at this age can feel pain. They are human, after all. That they have potential or actual disabilities, health problems, or whatever, does not change this fact.  Again, we have a 20-week abortion ban here but there are very broad exceptions. My friend, and roommate in Austin, Dr. Sheila Page, gave powerful testimony on this very fact.

I always learn so much from her and have been blessed to listen to her and get to know her better since we first met in 2013.

In my testimony, I wanted to focus on the discrimination aspect of this and  how that mentality leads to euthanasia and overall disregard for all human life. (You'll note a theme among my posts lately. I am deeply disturbed and concerned about the way society views humanity and the effects and consequences of that.) I also wanted to point out how the failure to give women this information is not providing informed consent. There has always been a double standard here - even among feminists. I've heard feminists say, on the one hand, women are powerful and should be completely autonomous and decide who lives and who dies. Then they say, on the other hand, women are fragile and should not be given too much information lest they be scared away....from what? Abortion? Medical professionals sometimes oppose these bills and why would that be? In any other context it would be medical malpractice to perform a procedure on a person and not provide them the information they need for full and complete informed consent. Why the double standard? So they might not choose something else? Like life, maybe? I think the idea that pro-abortion people want fewer abortions becomes harder to believe sometimes just by listening to what they say.

Anyway, we were only give two minutes, which is hardly enough time to say anything very useful, so many of us submitted written testimony as well. Mine follows the video of my oral testimony.

Testimony in Support of SB 1033
April 10, 2019
By: Kassi Dee Patrick Marks, JD

I submit this written testimony in support of SB 1033. Among other things, this bill addresses two critical areas which demonstrate an inconsistency and hypocrisy in the law in the context of abortion which leads to a devaluing of all human life, including the preborn child and women, who are not provided the protection they deserve. First, it addresses ongoing legal discrimination against the most vulnerable segment of the population that is no less worthy of protection from such lethal discrimination in this case than anyone else. It closes the gaping loopholes in Texas’ existing law that allow for late-term abortion of a viable child even for nebulous reasons such as the “prevent[ing]…a substantial risk of serious impairment to the…mental health of the woman.” Second, it requires true and full informed consent on the part of the mother as to the preborn child’s actual condition and palliative care measures available should the worst case scenario be realized. This is information not currently offered. 
Society has an inherent disregard for – and, in some cases – actual contempt for certain human life deemed less worthy of dignity, protection, and the ability to continue living. For the preborn, we now see efforts to stop laws that would prevent rendering care even to those infants born alive despite an abortion attempt. This level of societal depravity must end and we in Texas can do something to roll this back. This bill is an important step in that direction. 
First, this bill addresses discrimination against the preborn. One of the last widely acceptable means of discrimination in our society, including among many who consider themselves “pro-life,” is that which is against preborn who may be ill, disabled, an undesired gender, and so forth. We also see this discrimination extended to those already born who are ill, the disabled who are ill, or simply the elderly who are ill and permitted (and even encouraged) by the laws in Texas allowing for the withdrawal of and refusal to provide healthcare to them as well. We’d not have one form of discrimination without the other. Not only does the current law allow for this discrimination against the preborn to continue, it actually encourages it based on the breadth of the reasons allowing late-term abortions of viable infants. The result of this legally sanctioned discrimination is the certain death of people whose lives are no less worthy of value, care, and protection than anyone else. 
The bill also specifically prohibits abortion based on discriminatory reasons such a gender, ethnicity, race, and the “probability of diagnosis of or having a disability of the woman’s unborn child” or by the “use of force or threat of force to intentionally injure or intimidate a person in order to coerce the performance or attempted performance of an abortion based” on these reasons. It would prevent abortions based on a non-life threatening disability or even suspected disability of the child and other discriminatory reasons and is based on existing anti-discrimination laws that hypocritically and inconsistently do not currently extend to the unborn. How can we expect any life to be valued if the least among us are routinely and easily discarded for the pettiest of reasons? Second, this bill addresses the lack of information given to women prior to an abortion which results in a medical procedure being performed without informed consent, something that would, in any other context, be violative of the law and medical ethics. The one area of “medicine” where is it permissible and encouraged to perform a procedure without obtaining fully informed consent is in the area of abortion. Indeed, both practitioners of this macabre procedure and lobbyists do everything they can to avoid fully informing a woman of the nature of the procedure, the true condition of her unborn baby and his or her state of development, the risks and complications of the abortion procedure, and the negative long-term consequences of undergoing such a procedure. Far from empowering a woman, proponents of abortion seek to keep her ignorant and push her into a something she may not have chosen had all the facts been given her beforehand. 
Under this bill, such a late-term abortion would be restricted to those preborn children who receive a diagnosis of a life-threatening disability but only after the mother receives information about perinatal palliative care which includes care from the moment of diagnosis to the delivery of the baby and possible death. This care includes not just medical care, but also social and mental health care, and counseling. The term “palliative care” also includes health care provided by maternal-fetal specialists, obstetricians, neonatologists, anesthesia specialists, clergy, social workers, and other individuals focused on alleviating fear and pain and ensuring the pregnant woman, her preborn child, and her family as a whole experience a supportive environment. The informational materials will also include information about services for the provision of this care and medical assistance benefits that may be available. 
Currently, an expectant mother receives a grim diagnosis and a recommendation to abort without any other information and without recommendations to other specialists to learn more about the diagnosis and a second opinion. Decisions are made hastily – and out of fear and even ignorance – because information is not made readily available to a woman. This is largely because the mindset of too many is that no child should be given the opportunity to be born with such a diagnosis and so the woman is “encouraged” to make a decision where certain death looks like the best and only option. Everything about the current system prevents informed consent and ensures discriminatory abortion under the law. 
In addition, this bill would restrict abortion also to only those cases where there is a medical emergency for the mother as that is defined in §171.002(3) “a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy that, as certified by a physician, places the woman in danger of death or a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function unless an abortion is performed.” Truthfully, almost no abortion – especially a late-term abortion – would meet this definition because many times to the extent that the pregnancy itself is causing those risks, the post-viable preborn baby can be delivered prematurely and both the mother and baby receive medical care. Abortion is not healthcare and does not treat any medical condition. Killing a child at this stage does nothing to help the mother. Ending the pregnancy by delivering the child alive and treating both mother and baby helps everyone and affirms all life. 
This is life affirming legislation that this state needs for the sake of women, preborn children, and society as a whole. When society under color of law, targets the least among us as unworthy of life and disposable, how can we expect any life to be valued by the average person? No action occurs in a vacuum. These philosophies grow and spread and we see that in how society now views euthanasia and how Texas law treats the ill which we discuss today as well. We’d not be there without abortion. All life has value. And, if we are to err at all, we err on the side of life. Always.

I will be posting more videos soon and discussing them. In the interim, you can see a number of them on my friend Yvette D's YouTube page. I really appreciate her taking the time to do this and sharing them with me.

I am so grateful for all those who came out to support these bills. As Texas Right to Life reported, the support of the bill was overwhelming.

It says a great deal about an organization and an issue when you get numbers like that. I'm going to be writing more about that in the future as well. 

Note that the companion bill to SB 1033, which is HB 2434, is being heard before the House Health & Human Services Committee Wednesday, that is, tomorrow. If you can get down there to register in support of the bill or testify in support of it, or both, please do so. It matters a great deal to show those who represent us what we want.

Texas is not as pro-life as it could be. At the end of life, it is the worst. We're going to talk about that next. We can make a difference and the show of numbers matters to the difference we can make because those who lobby against these life-saving bills are quite monied and politically well-connected and influential. We have to make up the difference in numbers and hard work.

So, that's our first update on the testimony.

UPDATE: I should have mentioned that the bill was left pending in the Committee. At some point we hope that they will vote it out of the Committee so it can be taken up by the full Senate.

Thanks for reading!