For two consecutive sessions of the Legislature, John Raney (R-College Station) has earned unacceptably low scores on the Pro-Life Scorecard. These scores are noticeably lower than his first session in the Legislature, in 2013, showing a downhill trend in his stance on Life issues.
In his most appalling action taken in the Regular Session of the 85th Legislature, Raney was one of several liberal Republicans to support elective abortions on preborn children with disabilities. Because of an insidious loophole, current Texas laws do not protect unborn children with disabilities from late abortions, the point of development when these precious babies can feel the torturous pain of the procedure. The state protects all other unborn children from abortion after 20 weeks. During the 85th Legislature, Representative Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) filed an amendment to end this barbaric practice, but Raney blindly followed liberal House leadership to oppose and kill the amendment.
This anti-Life vote has haunted Raney with grassroots as he faces three challengers in the upcoming Republican Primary Election. Because of all the criticism about his assaults on Life, Raney has attempted to justify why he voted to kill a life-saving amendment:
[T]he amendment you are referencing has been deemed unconstitutional and blocked by the courts in 3 other states. If we added that amendment to the bill, we would have endangered the rest of the bill and all the good that it would have done…If the amendment was a stand-alone bill, I would have been in favor of its passage so it could test the constitutionality without jeopardizing other victories. Those who seek to undo bills that protect life through court challenges are very crafty, and it is important that we are thoughtful when we draft legislation to make sure we meet constitutional muster.
His excuse is not only wholly inadequate, but an entire fabrication. First of all, minutes before he opposed Schaefer’s amendment, Raney himself voted to add a strong “severability clause” to Senate Bill 8. This means that if the “very crafty” lawyers attacked the part of the bill of concern to Raney, the other provisions he did like would still be upheld in court, enforced, and untouched. Discussion of “severability clauses” are extremely common in the Texas Legislature and should be familiar to an elected official who’s been in the Legislature for six years. So, no legislator could genuinely oppose the Schaefer Amendment simply because of the effect the amendment would have on the constitutionality of the whole bill.
However, Raney’s claim about the Schaefer’s amendment being “deemed unconstitutional and blocked by the courts in 3 other states” is categorically false. No court has ruled specifically on the content of the Schaefer Amendment: protecting preborn children with disabilities from abortions after 20 weeks. In fact, more than 10 states have already enacted the laws that mirror the Schaefer Amendment, yet none of those laws have been struck down because they protect children suspected to have disabilities. Raney never asked for background information or additional materials from Representative Schaefer or from Texas Right to Life during this debate.
Though Raney opposed Pro-Life priority policies, he claimed a victory when his own weak, do-nothing bill passed both chambers. The alleged “sensational Pro-Life victory” does not save one life and only addressed the distribution of information on embryo donation to parents of unused embryos. Oddly, in 2015, Raney supported using taxpayer dollars to fund embryo-destroying stem cell research in the state budget. Undoubtedly, Raney will use his overrated 2017 “victory” on the campaign trail to garner votes when he should be forthcoming about his support for embryo-destroying research and late abortions on children suspected of disabilities.
While Raney has registered many correct votes alongside his intentional blunders, he has failed to become a leader for the Pro-Life movement within the Texas Capitol.
In the Republican Primary, Raney is being challenged by Sarah Laningham, a local small businesswoman, who was born and raised in College Station. She decided to run for State Representative in order to provide the voters of House District 14 with true and consistent Pro-Life representation. She will ardently work to advance the Culture of Life through policies that protect preborn Texans and vulnerable hospital patients.
After a somewhat-promising first session, Raney has started singing the Austin mantra, leaving the Pro-Life movement in his forgotten dustbin. Brazos County and House District 14 deserve more than a mushy and flexible legislator who is willing to set aside his self-professed values once he goes to Austin.