Rick Perry’s Pro-Life Record
Governor Perry signs the historic Sonogram Law in May of 2011.
Texas Right to Life has enjoyed a fruitful relationship with our Pro-Life Governor, Rick Perry, since before he was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1998; therefore, we are quite pleased that this Pro-Life champion has entered the race for President of the United States. While the Republican candidates who have already declared their candidacy also espouse Pro-Life views, Governor Perry’s record is unmatched.
Governor Perry enthusiastically signed the Pro-Life pledge put forth by our colleagues at the Susan B. Anthony List. He has been an outspoken and unapologetic advocate for protecting the sanctity of human life from fertilization until natural death, and he has effectively put his advocacy into action during his tenure as Texas’ top official.
No state in recent years has passed more Pro-Life legislation or removed more tax dollars from Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading abortion committer, than Texas. In fact, Governor Perry partnered with Texas Right to Life to cut revenue to the abortion industry in the state’s budget in the recent 2011 Legislative Session. As a direct result, seven Planned Parenthood affiliated clinics are closing in North Texas.
When Texas Right to Life personally verified the clinic closings, the staff at these agencies confirmed that the loss of public funds [that’s my money and your money] was the sole reason for the closures. And Governor Perry helped Texas Right to Life take it away from Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion provider.
In 2003, Governor Perry signed the landmark Woman’s Right to Know Law, protecting a woman’s right to informed consent before an abortion. Elizabeth Graham was honored that Governor Perry gave the signing pen to Texas Right to Life in appreciation for years of work to achieve this goal.
When Rick Perry took the role of President of the State Senate as Lieutenant Governor, his first move was to restructure the committees to facilitate a conservative agenda passing. In 1999, the Parental Notification bill finally passed because, at last, the bill could move through the legislative process without being bottlenecked by hostile committee chairs. Lieutenant Governor Perry was personally involved in shepherding that bill through to then-Governor Bush’s desk.
The Parental Notification Law required that parents be notified of their minor daughter’s intent to seek and undergo an abortion. The teen abortion rate has dropped noticeably since Texas enacted parental involvement laws, thereby strengthening Texas families and protecting the rights of parents.
Perry assumed the governorship in December 2000 when then-governor George W. Bush resigned to become President. Perry was elected to full gubernatorial terms in 2002, 2006, and 2010. His more than ten years in the office of governor has afforded him many opportunities to protect the sanctity of innocent human life, and he made the most of each one.
In 2003, the Texas Legislature passed Texas’ version of informed consent before an abortion, the Woman’s Right to Know law. The bill established a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion and also required that information be offered to women seeking abortion. Governor Perry shared Texas Right to Life’s view that abortion should not be held to a lower standard than any other medical procedure—particularly since abortion permanently changes not just one, but two lives.
Also in 2003, just days after the bodies of Laci Peterson and her unborn son, Conner, were discovered, Governor Perry helped move the Prenatal Protection Act. The bill was being slowed by some in the medical community, and Governor Perry astutely drew attention to the loss of both Conner’s and Laci’s life. When 7 and-a-half months pregnant with Conner, Laci was murdered, and consequently, her prenatal son, also died. The finding of the bodies ended a protracted search; Conner’s tiny body was found separated from Laci’s. Governor Perry wanted to be sure that unborn children were considered victims of state crimes if they died or were injured during the commission of crimes against their pregnant mothers. As a result, Texas penal code recognizes unborn children at the moment of fertilization.
Texas became the tenth state to fund alternatives to abortion in the state budget in 2005. The Texas program was modeled after the extremely successful program in Pennsylvania, called Real Alternatives. Since its inception, the Texas Pregnancy Care Network has achieved and exceeded its goals, serving thousands of women who are pregnant, think they may be pregnant, or who have a child up to one year in age. This program is revolutionary and has empowered social service agencies, maternity homes, adoption agencies, and pregnancy centers to expand their outreach and services by supplementing their income with state funds. Governor Perry has ensured that the program remains fully funded, if not increased, since he signed that budget bill in 2005.
Governor Perry also approved a small measure in a bill that overhauled the Texas Medical Board (TMB). Some House members added some amendments to the TMB bill to restrict third trimester abortions and to change the wording of the Parental Notification statute to parental consent. Governor Perry was pleased that the House added these provisions and happily signed the TMB bill following the 2005 Legislative Session.
Elizabeth and Jim Graham thanked Governor Perry for supporting the move to fund alternatives to abortion in the state budget in 2005.
In the 80th and 81st Legislative Sessions, Governor Perry made known that he wanted to buttress adult stem cell research and cord blood banking in hopes of eventually matching the endless flow of private funds to the fatal embryonic stem cell research. Perry has proven uncompromising on embryo-destroying research, confirming that human life begins at fertilization. In sharp contrast to the Obama administration, Governor Perry does recognize the personhood of human embryos—including lives manufactured through scientific means in laboratories, whereas the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has declared open season on our nascent brethren by removing all restrictions on biotech research.
Perry has always been straightforward, helpful, and true to his Pro-Life convictions. He has intervened to stop anti-Life legislation on a number of occasions, which has been crucial, and he has helped clear obstacles when necessary.
Every one of Governor Perry’s judicial appointees adheres to a strict constructionist style of jurisprudence. His appointees do not legislate from the bench. Governor Perry’s appointments have created the largest, most conservative judicial body in America.
The recently adjourned 82nd Legislative Session is perhaps the most historic and successful for the Pro-Life movement in Texas. The new sonogram law may not have passed if Governor Perry had not fast-tracked the measure, propelling it past the procedural hurdles. The bill morphed throughout the session, but Governor Perry was working behind the scenes to make the sonogram bill strong. And strong it is! In the past, abortion providers would not have to share this vital piece of medical information with a woman before she finalized her decision to abort. Now this right to informed consent before an abortion is protected in law — thanks to Governor Perry standing with Texas Right to Life on closing the loopholes in the sonogram bill.
Governor Perry personally thanks Texas Right to Life staff for helping win his re-election in November 2010.
Texas Right to Life also engineered efforts to take $64 million dollars away from the abortion industry through cuts to the state’s family planning budget. After eight amendments passed overwhelmingly in the State House, we had to remain vigilant to ensure that this funding was not restored. Governor Perry and his staff sent a clear message to the legislators who were writing the final version of the state’s budget bill: “Not one cent was to be moved back to the abortion industry.” And not one penny was. The result: Seven Planned Parenthood affiliates are closing in North Texas.
During the Special Session of the 82nd Legislature, a bill was passed to reorganize health care services delivered through Medicaid and Medicare. As passed by both chambers, the bill was innocuous enough so that Texas Right to Life was not involved. However, a version of the bill, Senate Bill 7, emerged from the conference committee that included a horrific provision: “Local [county] tax dollars could pay for the abortion of children with fetal abnormalities.”
Texas Right to Life indeed protested, and we did not relent. Although all in leadership wanted the bill to pass because of the health care savings in the bill, many House and Senate members were appalled at this provision on fetal abnormalities. When Governor Perry’s office called us to inquire, they understood the problem and bought us time to close the loophole. His top aides took part in the negotiations to ensure that all the stakeholders, legislators, and Texas Right to Life agreed to the final language. Had Governor Perry and his advisors not slowed the process or responded to Texas Right to Life’s concerns, disabled, unborn babies would be endangered in the womb in Texas.
Governor Perry’s commitment to restoring the sanctity of innocent human life manifests in his words, but more importantly, in his actions and his list of achievements for the Pro-Life cause. He has spoken at numerous Pro-Life events across the state, freely mentions the Life Issues in his public speeches, and privately walks the walk of a true Pro-Life statesman and servant.
Yours for Life,