In this issue of the Texas Catholic Voice:

  • 2021 Legislative Highlights...
  • Advocacy in Washington DC...

A Message from Jennifer Allmon, Executive Director

TCCB staff is looking forward to the Christmas break to celebrate the birth of our Savior and spend time with family and loved ones. As we reflect on our work at the Legislature this year, we are grateful for actions across the spectrum of our policy agenda. The following are some highlights: 

Healthcare  

Expanded Medicaid coverage for postpartum women and continuous 12-month eligibility for children enrolled in Medicaid was enacted.  

Religious Liberty 

Laws were passed declaring religious organizations essential and prohibiting governmental officials from limiting their operation, including their closure during a pandemic. The chaplain access bill also passed, which allows patients and residents of healthcare facilities access to spiritual support during a public health emergency.  

Education 

Big wins for parental rights were the passage of laws requiring increased transparency and written consent regarding human sexuality instruction in public schools. Home-schooled students finally have the right to participate in UIL and, in a parental choice victory, students may receive a credit of up to $1,500 to purchase supplemental special education services and materials.  

Respect Life 

Our greatest victories this year, however, were the passage of our top two priorities, the Human Life Protection Act and the Chemical Abortion Safety Protocol. 

On Dec. 1, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The abortion provider sued the state of Mississippi over its law banning abortion after 15 weeks. The question before the Supreme Court is whether all pre-viability bans on elective abortions are unconstitutional. A majority of the justices appeared to question the viability standard and there is hope that this could be the end of Roe v. Wade. If the Supreme Court decides in favor of Mississippi, the Human Life Protection Act will allow Texas to immediately enact protections for the unborn insofar as the Court reverses precedent. The decision is expected in early summer of 2022. 

On Dec. 16, the FDA permanently lifted the in-person dispensing requirement for abortion-inducing drugs allowing for do-it-yourself abortions through the mail. Women deserve better than this cavalier approach to their healthcare, which places politics and profits before their well-being. We anticipated this reckless move and advocated for the Chemical Abortion Safety Protocol which, among other safety provisions, codifies the in-person dispensing requirement in Texas law.  

I was in Washington, DC in early December to attend a national meeting of state Catholic conference directors; many of us had the privilege of being on the steps of the Supreme Court to listen to the Dobbs case. The primary purpose of our meeting, however, was to collaborate on the public policy work of the Church and to visit legislators.  

While in DC, I met with President Biden’s staff and members of Congress to ask the president to restore $10 billion in funding that supports the Medicaid system in Texas. An agreement for federal reimbursements expired on Sept. 1. Approval to continue support has been withheld by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The Texas bishops sent a letter to the President requesting he resolve the impasse. We are hopeful this critical safety net for the most vulnerable residents in Texas will not be permanently withheld. 

Holiday schedule: Our offices are closed Dec. 23 through Jan. 3. All of us at TCCB wish you a blessed Christmas and the peace of the Incarnation throughout 2022. 

Upcoming Texas Executions

There are no executions scheduled until March 2022.

Please join our bishops in praying for those scheduled for execution, for the victims of violent crimes and for all affected, including their families and communities. As the bishops of Texas wrote in their pastoral letter, "May God give us the grace to witness to the dignity of human life. May the Lord console the suffering, protect our community, and grant conversion to those responsible for the inflicting of death and violence upon others."

Prayer for the Legislature

Please pray for all our public servants and elected officials, including our Governor, Lt. Governor, House Speaker, lawmakers, and their staff, that the Lord may grant them wisdom and prudence to work for the common good of all the people of Texas.

papal seal

Pope Francis' prayer intention for January

For true human fraternity

We pray for all those suffering from religious discrimination and persecution; may their own rights and dignity be recognized, which originate from being brothers and sisters in the human family.

The Texas Catholic Voice is a publication of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops. For more information, write news@txcatholic.org or call 512-339-9882.