After a Long Run, Kel Seliger Needs to Go

After 14 years in the Texas Senate, Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) has achieved a lackluster, at best, record on Pro-Life issues.  He does nothing to help the cause except begrudgingly vote for Pro-Life bills when they reach the Senate floor.  Rather than use his experience and tenure in the Senate to protect preborn children, pregnant mothers, and vulnerable patients, Seliger has been a serial antagonist toward strong Pro-Life legislation.

In 2011, when the Texas Senate operated under an archaic rule that required 21 votes (of 31 total state senators) to introduce legislation, Seliger was in a powerful jockeying position to demand changes to bills in exchange for his vote to reach the needed 21.  Although no one actually verbalized “trading votes,” that practice was known and widely done.  When the Sonogram Law was in the process of passage, Seliger (and now indicted Democrat Carlos Uresti) were the two last needed votes to reach the 21.

Then-Senator Dan Patrick was the sponsor of the sonogram bill, House Bill 15, and called upon Seliger and Uresti to vote to bring the bill to the Senate floor for debate.  Seliger demanded a major weakening amendment to the sonogram bill.  The bill required that an abortionist provide a sonogram to a woman seeking an abortion 24 hours prior to the abortion.  Claiming how inconvenienced rural women would be by having to drive twice to a distant abortion clinic—once for the sonogram and another time for the abortion, Seliger withheld his 21st vote until a loophole was added to the bill that would exempt pregnant women who lived 100 miles or further from an abortion clinic from the 24 hour waiting period.  Skeptical of Seliger’s intentions, Texas Right to Life offered a counter amendment that would require the clinic to confirm the county of residence of the woman (confidentially, of course) to make the possibility of clinic manipulation of this provision more difficult.  Seliger opposed the residence verification, again withdrew his 21st vote, and jeopardized the sonogram bill.  The bill passed with the “Seliger 100 Mile Loophole” that will most likely not be fixed legislatively until he leaves the Senate.

In 2013, Seliger authored Senate Bill 346 that was opposed by Texas Right to Life and many other grassroots activists.  Seliger’s bill was a direct attack on the free speech of every person who supports non-profit organizations or churches.  SB 346 required non-profit organizations, except predictably—labor unions, to disclose all of their supporters and members.  Seliger passed this bill quietly and quickly in the Senate, after which Texas Right to Life and other interest groups and senators, including then-Senator Dan Patrick, realized the full impact of his bill.  The vote was reconsidered, but not in time to stop the bill from going to the Texas House.

Unsurprisingly, the liberal leadership of the Texas House knew exactly how the bill would impact conservative-leaning organizations and played procedural games to pass the bill onto the governor.  Governor Rick Perry vetoed the bill, emphasizing the “chilling effect” on free speech and freedom of association.

Seliger’s SB 346 reignited the obsession of the liberal Republicans and the Democrats with thwarting the free speech of non-profits and grassroots activists, an onslaught against which Texas Right to Life has fought since the SB 346 debate.

Seliger not only has a mixed record on abortion, but also on protecting the lives of vulnerable, hospital patients.  In the 2013 Regular Session of the 83rd Legislature, Senate Bill 303 would have expanded the power of doctors and hospitals to speed the deaths of hospitalized patients against their wishes.  SB 303 would have allowed hospitals to unilaterally insert a Do-Not-Resuscitate Order into a patient’s file and remove life-sustaining treatment against the patient’s will, and broadened the decision-making authority of hospital committees over the lives of patients.  Seliger turned his back on the ailing and disabled and voted for this despotic bill and against the rights of vulnerable patients.

SB 303 was so egregious that not even the liberal leadership of the Texas House could cajole one of their own committee chairs to move the bill.

In 2015, Seliger joined Democrats in an attempt to weaken Senate Bill 575, Pro-Life Health Insurance Reform, by supporting loopholes to force Texans to pay for some elective abortions with their tax and premium dollars.  Although those weakening attempts failed, Seliger’s collusion with the Democrats should be remembered, as well as his attempt to weaken this substantial Pro-Life bill.  (Pro-Life Health Insurance Reform did pass in 2017 without loopholes.)

Rather than advance Life in the Texas Legislature, Kel Seliger has worked with Democrats to undermine the values of Senate District 31.  After more than a decade with an unreliable senator representing West Texas and the Panhandle, the time is now for a senator who will unfailingly stand for Life.  The voters of Senate District 31 should consider voting for Texas Right to Life endorsees Mike Canon or Victor Leal.

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