On February 19, John Raney sent an email to Brazos County Republican voters, featuring a letter from a fake Pro-Life organization in a desperate attempt to distort Raney’s dismal record on protecting Life as a Texas State Representative. The letter attempts to justify a particularly egregious vote Raney took during the 2017 85th Session of the Legislature by minimizing the importance of the vote and presenting a false narrative.
The vote referenced in the letter was a vote “to table” (which means to lay aside on the table or to kill) Amendment 22 to Senate Bill 8 (Regular Session of the 85th Legislature). Pro-Life Representative Matt Schaefer authored this amendment in order to close the loophole in Texas law that fails to protect unborn children with a disability from abortions after 20 weeks. 22 liberal Republicans defected from the rest of the Republican caucus to join the anti-Life Democrats in killing this amendment, keeping in law the discriminatory practice of late-term abortions for children with disabilities. Had those 22 Republicans voted Pro-Life for the amendment, the amendment would have passed into law. This betrayal caused an uproar in the Pro-Life community, and the vote on the Schaefer Amendment has been key to dividing sheep from goats, in separating true Pro-Life elected officials from those who use Pro-Life rhetoric for campaigns and political power.
The letter in Raney’s email from the fake Pro-Life organization claims that the Schaefer Amendment only applied to babies with severe fetal abnormalities who “cannot live outside the womb even with the best medical attention… [these babies] will die before birth or shortly after birth.”
This claim is false. Below is the complete text of the Schaefer amendment (emphasis added):
Sec. 171.006. PROHIBITED ABORTIONS; OFFENSE. (a) A physician may not perform or induce or attempt to perform or induce an abortion if the physician’s sole purpose for performing, inducing, or attempting to perform or induce the abortion is because of a fetal abnormality, including a severe fetal abnormality, and the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child is 20 or more weeks.
(b) A physician who violates Subsection (a) commits an offense. An offense under this section is a state jail felony.
Notice the amendment does not, as the letter claims, only apply to severe fetal abnormalities. Instead, the amendment applies to all fetal abnormalities, including severe fetal abnormalities. The letter Raney is promoting is intentionally mischaracterizing the amendment.
Even so, if these babies are really going to die, what is the rush in euthanizing them in the womb? There is no certainty whatsoever that such ill babies will actually die in utero, or that the diagnosis is without error. If a child is so ill or disabled, would that be a perfect opportunity to err on the side of Life and help the parents through the tragedy of such a heartbreaking loss? Why rush to kill the child and compound the tragedy?
The language of the Schaefer Amendment was drafted to include all fetal abnormalities specifically because babies with all sorts of disabilities, not just “severe,” are victimized by abortion in Texas.
The letter references House Bill 2, the Pro-Life Omnibus Bill from 2013 that banned abortions after 20 weeks, a policy for which Wendy Davis became famous for filibustering. (Ironically, the fake Pro-Life group praises Raney for his vote in favor of this bill in the letter, yet in 2013, this same group did not support the bill). HB 2 banned late abortions on all babies except for those with a “severe fetal abnormality,” which the 2015 and 2017 Schaefer Amendments attempted to address.
There are three main problems with the anti-Life loophole Raney voted to keep into Law:
- The definition of “severe fetal abnormality” is subjective. In the Texas Health and Safety Code, the term’s legal definition is described as “incompatible with life outside of the womb.” This is a very controversial ethical notion, not a medical or legal criteria. Pro-Lifers around the world have opposed this exact deceptive language used to devalue children with disabilities. In 2011, when this language was debated on Senate Bill 7 (First Called Special Session), anti-Life stakeholders responsible for the loophole refused to adopt objective definitions like “a condition that will lead to death within 2 days of birth” so Pro-Lifers were forced to accept the murky definition. An objective medical standard is needed to protect all unborn children with disabilities from abortion.
- The loophole empowers abortionists to determine “severe fetal abnormality” and “incompatible with life.” Abortionists consider the practice of murdering unborn babies to be justified if, in their skewed view, abortion contributes to a better life. The letter from the fake Pro-Life group falsely claimed that HB 2 outlawed late-term abortions for children with “Down Syndrome, spina bifida, and cleft palate.” However, those named conditions never appear in law. The fake group may not intend for the loophole to apply to these disabilities; however, the subjective language leaves the judgment up to each individual abortionist, without a second opinion, approval from the Department of State Health, or even thorough paperwork proving the tests that indicated the child has a disability. The decision is entirely up to the abortionist and his deadly quality of life value judgments.
- The loophole still sanctions late-term abortions. The group’s letter claims that only a few abortions in Texas annually fit their definition of “severe fetal abnormality,” which, of course, is not the definition under the law. They defend Raney’s vote to protect the anti-Life loophole because only a few lives are lost under the language. The loophole should categorically be opposed since no illness or disability warrants deliberately taking the life of an innocent human being, regardless of how few or how many are at stake.
Aside from minimizing the importance of the Schaefer Amendment, the letter claims that if the amendment had passed, the courts would have struck the Pro-Life protection down. This excuse is absurd for several reasons:
- Claims of unconstitutionality are used as political cover in election season. Raney voted against the Schaefer Amendment on May 19, 2017; however, the argument the language was unconstitutional was not discussed publicly until primary election season almost a year later, once several moderate Republicans drew primary challengers. Texas Right to Life sent out a Scorecard Alert on the Schaefer Amendment to representatives and their staff more than 24 hours before the vote on the Schaefer Amendment. On the morning of the vote, Texas Right to Life distributed this Scorecard Alert to representatives as they entered the floor of the Texas House, yet no moderate Republican or fake Pro-Life group raised concerns about the Constitutionality before OR AFTER the vote…until election season. The issue of Constitutionality was not even mentioned during the long floor debate on the Schaefer Amendment. In fact, the representative who presented the motion to table the amendment- disgraced, anti-Life Byron Cook – never mentioned constitutionality as a reason for voting to kill the amendment. Instead, he gave a speech on the House floor claiming that we “shouldn’t play God” by protecting unborn babies with disabilities from abortion. Another liberal Republican who voted to kill the amendments was Ernest Bailes, who felt so strongly about his actions that he recorded a statement in the journal defending his decision to murder unborn children with disabilities. All those who opposed the Schaefer Amendment did so due to House politics, not legal concerns.
- 2017 wasn’t the first time for this debate. In 2015, Schaefer filed Amendment 18 to House Bill 2510. During the debate on this amendment, constitutionality was never mentioned. During a speech on the floor of the Texas House, notoriously anti-Life J.D. Sheffield argued in favor of killing the amendment (and consequently disabled unborn children), claiming that abortion is the best way for children with disabilities to be “dealt with.” There were two votes in relation to Amendment 18: a motion to table (brought by a Democrat), and a motion to adopt. Surprisingly, John Raney voted Pro-Life on each of those votes. Clearly, in 2015 Raney did not believe he was voting on an amendment that wouldn’t pass constitutional muster.
- There is nothing unconstitutional about closing the loophole. Several states have laws that prohibit all abortions after 20 weeks, including protecting unborn children with disabilities. These laws in other states have never been challenged in court. Could a fake Pro-Life group argue the amendment is unconstitutional? This group has a long record of arguing that strong Pro-Life laws are unconstitutional and will not survive in court.
The fake Pro-Life groups raise funds from moderate Republican incumbents to whom the groups give cover during elections. Texas Right to Life will not endorse incumbents or candidates who do not share our values and our views that all unborn children, including those with disabilities, must be protected from the barbaric practice of abortion; for abiding by our mission, we draw criticism from the liberal branch of the Establishment Austin lobby, but we enjoy statewide support from our members for staying focused on our mission.
On the other hand, the other groups are funded by liberal members of House leadership as a means of protecting the Establishment elite politicians during their reelection challenges. During each session of the Legislature, these local organizations push a slew of weak and toothless Pro-Life bills as cover for their opposition to meaningful Pro-Life reforms, testifying and offering warped legal analysis about actual life-saving bills—including the prohibition on abortions after 20-weeks in 2013. These groups are now praising that 20-week ban that they once protested. In this election cycle, 19 of the 22 Republicans who voted to kill the Schaefer Amendment are running for re-election with the endorsement of the fake groups.
Apart from voting to table the Schaefer amendment, Raney has developed a reputation for unexcused absences on key Pro-Life votes. These are not absences due to bathroom breaks or illnesses or lunch; all of those would be excused. Members of the Texas House who prioritize the protection of Life do NOT miss Pro-Life votes and ensure that they are present and on record protecting Life.
- Raney failed to protect the remains of unborn children from being sold. [Unexcused absence, Amendment 15 to SB 8 (Regular Session of 85th Legislature)]
- Raney failed to protect funding for the Pro-Life Alternatives to Abortion program. [Unexcused absence, Record Vote #360, SB 1 (Regular Session of 85th Legislature)]
- Raney failed to protect pregnant minors in the court system. [Unexcused absence, Amendment 10 to HB 3994, (Regular Session of 84th Legislature)]
- Raney failed to protect babies from painful death in the womb. [Unexcused absence, Motion to Table Amendment 16 to HB 2, 2013 (Regular Session of 83rd Legislature)]
Texas Right to Life urges you to look past the propaganda promoted by the liberal, Austin Establishment, trying desperately to deceive you in order to preserve their power. Visit www.TexasRightToLife.com and do your own research.
House District 14 deserves much better than John Raney, who misses Pro-Life votes, then votes for power over principle when he is there. Sarah Laningham is a Pro-Life activist and small business owner who will not forget her principles once she arrives in Austin. Please send Sarah Laningham to Austin on the March 6th election. All unborn children, especially those with disabilities, are counting on you.