Senator Lucio’s prepared remarks, delivered on the Senate Floor Friday, July 12, 2013.
Members – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
In penning the Declaration of Independence in 1776, American patriot Thomas Jefferson famously stated the above as a means to provide both a cause and an explanation for the colonial break away from Great Britain. Jefferson modeled this declaration of natural rights closely after philosopher John Locke’s ideas on the subject. The only difference between the two is that Locke stated that the natural (god-given) rights were life, liberty, and property rather than life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The fourteenth amendment reiterates this basic principle: “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
The question all comes down to when a “Person” becomes a “Person.”
To some, lacking the ability to reason proves the “developing mass of tissue” in the mother’s womb should be considered a non-person and thus has no rights. The rights of the “true” person—the mother—take precedence. Those who support this, believe it to be ethical for a parent to take the life of the baby, since it isn’t a person—as “the unborn” lack conscious awareness of self. It is this argument that is used to justify about 1.2 million abortions per year in the U.S. alone.
The reality is what makes us persons is that we are human beings created in God’s image. There is the belief that what we think about God is the most important thing about us. I disagree. I feel what God thinks of us is the most important thing about us. Even if a human never has enough capacity to think about God, he or she is still the object of God’s unique creation and care, and therefore possesses personhood.
The truth is, God made the heavens and the earth. He also made all living beings, including the insects and animals, but he only made Humans in His image. So regardless of development or size, since we bear God’s image, we are precious in a way that other living species are not. A human person’s a person—no matter how small.
The pro-choice advocates do not want unborn children recognized as a “Person.” Why?
The answer goes directly to the heart of Roe v. Wade. To Justice Byron R. White, this unequivocally proved that the Supreme Court made an unconstitutional decision. In his dissenting opinion on Roe v. Wade Justice White stated:
“At the heart of the controversy in these cases are those recurring pregnancies that pose no danger whatsoever to the life or health of the mother but are, nevertheless, unwanted for any one or more of a variety of reasons — convenience, family planning, economics, dislike of children, the embarrassment of illegitimacy, etc. … I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the Court’s judgment. … As an exercise of raw judicial power, the Court perhaps has authority to do what it does today; but, in my view, its judgment is an improvident and extravagant exercise of the power of judicial review that the Constitution extends to this Court.”
If they admit that the unborn are persons, they would have to ask themselves the question: What offenses have the unborn committed for which they should lose their lives?
Back in 1994 Mother Teresa of Calcutta rose above the “person” argument.
She stated: I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, committed by the mother herself.
And if we accept that a mother can end the life of even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?
How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion?
As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts.
Jesus gave even his life to love us. So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.
By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but ends the life of even her own child to solve her problems.
And, by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So one abortion just leads to more abortion.
Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.
Many people are very, very concerned with the children of the world, with the children in war torn areas, where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are also concerned about all the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions who are being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today – abortion which brings people to such blindness.
If you are a person of faith—it doesn’t matter if you prefer a literal or spiritual interpretation of the Bible—there is just no way to justify abortion by an appeal to God. Scripture clearly implies that Life begins at conception; all biblical evidence points us to the pro-life position:
- Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
- Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
- Psalm 139:13 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
- Job 31:15 “Did not He who made me in the womb make them? Did not the Same One for us both within our mothers?”
- Luke 1:41 “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”
I think Mother Teresa was also trying to point out the hypocrisy in the pro-choice movement. How can those who rage against the genocides and the killing of innocent women and children that occurred in the civil war in Rwanda, the killing fields of Cambodia, the gas chambers in Germany, and western region of the Sudan, which took the lives of millions of men, women, and children, and not show the same level of rage in the killing of millions of unborn children. Some of which were sex-selection abortions.
I’ve heard the opponents of the bill explain, “this is because it is about the future health of women”, — something I have voted for over and over again. “We’re doing it to ensure the children of the future have access to ‘safe reproductive health care’ A.K.A. abortions – a moral and fundamental human right.” Ironically this idea will only help ensure some children will have no hope for a future. Don’t you think every child should have a future? I do.
So what is in this bill?
First, it will limit the termination of pregnancy after the twenty week mark. Twenty weeks is, of course, an arbitrary mark to draw a line between protected under law and lump of cells. The general argument from those who oppose abortion, is that it is a point where the unborn obviously feel pain. Viability is a threshold that continues to move earlier thanks to medical science, and indeed some children born at 20 weeks have survived.
But there’s something else that happens at around the 20 week mark: the unborn can distinguish sounds. The first sound they will hear is the voice of their mother. In the weeks to come it will be a soothing and recognizable sound, distinguishable from all the rest. They will respond to it and react to it, to changes in volume and conversation. Much later, they will even be able to recognize tones of voice. But at the twenty week mark, there is only the formless sound. The child cannot understand what she is saying. They cannot detect the difference in tenor when she makes the call, and schedules the appointment, and takes them from the waiting room into the operating room where they will die.
They only recognize it as a mother’s voice, full of promise, enveloping them – familiar, reassuring, safe.
Secondly it would have the same effect that HB 15 did which was signed into law in 2003. It will hold abortion clinics to the same standards as hospital-style surgical centers. Just like in 2003, the advocates for abortion rights said the measures would force dozens of abortion providers around the state to close and leave only a handful in a few major cities that are able to meet what has been described as excessive, costly and medically unnecessary restrictions. It is true that some would close down if they don’t want to continue to provide women’s health services like cancer screenings, pregnancy test, prenatal services, sexual transmitted disease testing, and family planning. But just like a decade ago, the services for women’s health will not stop. Not in urban areas, and not in rural areas. The only clinics that may close are those that only provide “safe reproductive health care” A.K.A. abortions. In fact, by requiring these facilities to become ambulatory surgical centers, we increase the potential number of locations that can serve Texans in emergency situations.
Thirdly the other provisions are key to the ultimate health of the mother-to-be. The bill requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic. Currently, most doctors who perform these procedures do not have admitting privileges at a hospital, but those privileges could be obtained.
It points the mother-to-be, who wants to induce an abortion by taking a pill, to take it in the presence of a doctor at a certified abortion facility. This will also ensure that abortions “remain safe, legal and rare. — we hope!”
The reality is that abortion is now better regulated than ever before thanks to bills like this one. Many of the restrictions on abortion rights imposed by past legislatures have had the paradoxical (para-doxical) effect of making the practice more safe and therefore acceptable. An effect that pro-choice folks should acknowledge and support.
Some people ask why we can’t compromise on the topic of abortion.
There is a very simple answer. This is an issue about fundamentals and America is a country of fundamentalists, thanks to our constitutional tradition. For Democrats and Republicans, abortion can never be just about health. It has to be a clash of absolutes: the right to choose versus the right to life.
The abortion debate is also responsible for one of the most obvious confusions in the political debate. Republicans usually oppose government regulation in the name of free choice. They will fight to have every child born, but then limit the tools needed to help them survive like food, housing, and healthcare as they get older.
My side of the aisle is no more coherent: a party that will do anything to protect a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion, will not support her right to choose a school for her child.
This is not a War on women. It is a War on children. Where are the signs that read “I Stand with Texas Women and Children?” You will not see those signs and I’ll tell you why.
The capacity for compromise has disappeared in politics. Sadly, extremism—on both sides—is the best way to be heard and the best way to win elections. I call this the Peacock Effect – intentionally standing out, using extreme concepts to attract the most attention. And thanks to avenues like social media and 24 hour news programming, the ability to stand out have gotten easier. The negative effect is the filtering of information to fit an agenda or movement. Sadly people today literally have all the information they need at their fingertips yet still rely on talking heads and Twitter users to provide vaguely accurate information to base their opinions on.
In effect, this has led many Texans to become disillusioned with the political process which impacts voter turnout in a very negative way, especially with young voters. We all know voting is one of the single most important things a citizen can do to ensure that the government operates in the way it is designed and ensure that their personal beliefs are heard by the Texas political system.
If we are not inspiring people when they are young, what hope is there that they will care when they are older? There exist a large majority of individuals around Texas who stand-up for their beliefs whether they are a Republican or a Democrat. Abortion is not a partisan issue. There are more Pro-Life Democrats and Pro-Choice Republicans around the State that go unheard because they are bullied by partisan activist, for simply standing up for their beliefs.
Extreme partisanship and uncivil political discourse is not the best way to accomplish anything in Texas. The political platforms built on outlandish claims, cause the rhetoric of their extreme politics to quickly become repetitive and stagnate, but people should not underestimate the danger it poses to the next generation. It teaches them that to be taken seriously in politics, a certain level of anger and incivility is required. I do believe we can discuss our differences with order and respect. Not by orchestrating a mass protest within the walls of the Senate Chamber in an attempt to destroy order and civility.
The reality members, is that this bill will not change the fact that abortions will continue to be legal in the United States. This bill, contrary to what special interest groups say, will not take away a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. We can all agree that these procedures should be done in the safest way, by the best doctor, and in the safest environment whether this bill passes or not.
I challenge you to do a simple internet search for “the best abortion clinics in Texas”, or “Texas rankings for abortion clinics”, or even “Texas abortion clinic reviews”. The results you get won’t provide you with comparative information. Instead, you will only see links to regional locations that provide abortions. Why? Could it be that abortions may be the only elective medical procedure, which is fully financed by the patient, without the aid or provider limitations of health Insurance, where the doctor is picked based on the convenient location and not because of their abilities or the level of services provided.
So where are these clinics located in Texas? Well, around 90% of Texas counties do not have an abortion provider. This means that only 30% of Texas women, who happen to live in these counties, have convenient access to these clinics. So the reality is that 70% of all women currently need to travel to receive an abortion.
Another little fact is that the number of abortion facilities in the State of Texas have decreased in number since 2008. But have the number of abortions also decreased since 2008? The answer is NO. Simply put, women will always have the right to choose to have an abortion in Texas whether this legislation limits facilities or not. So the only thing this bill really does is move those procedures to the safest environment, done by the best doctor, and in the safest way, something we all should agree on.