In this issue of the Texas Catholic Voice:
- Standing for and with women...
- World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action against Human Trafficking...
- And more!
A Message from Jennifer Allmon, Executive Director
The TCCB office was closed for most of last week due to the ice storm but working from home proved to be very productive.
Phone calls, Zooms, and meetings in the Capitol make it difficult to carve out time to read bills. Fewer interruptions allowed the policy staff and me to focus on bill review. Unfortunately, we noted a disturbing new trend in bill language.
Many bills that specifically apply to women seek to remove the word “woman” from statute and replace it with words such as “person,” “individual” or “human.”
One example is a bill regarding the use of a controlled substance by a pregnant woman. The bill exempts a healthcare professional from reporting a pregnant woman who voluntarily discloses illegal use of a controlled substance, if the woman successfully completes a substance abuse treatment program, or the healthcare professional determines there is no immediate risk of harm to the child.
It also prohibits the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) from investigating a report of child abuse allegedly committed by a woman based on the woman's illegal use of a controlled substance during pregnancy, if the woman successfully completes a substance abuse treatment program.
Last legislative session, the TCCB supported this bill (HB 4055) as it promotes rehabilitation and family preservation; it passed the House but failed to receive a hearing in the Senate.
This session, however, the version filed in the House (HB 811) by the same author replaces “woman” with “person.” While this language does not fundamentally change the intent of the bill -- to keep a mother and her child united -- we will neither support nor oppose this bill as written nor any other bill that seeks to deny objective truth and biological reality by deliberately replacing “woman” with a gender-neutral term.
In his apostolic letter, Mulieris Dignitatem, “The Dignity of a Woman,” St. Pope John Paul II wrote that women who are mothers are "strong because of the fact that God 'entrusts the human being to her,' always and in every way, even in the situations of social discrimination in which she may find herself. This awareness and this fundamental vocation speak to women of the dignity which they receive from God himself, and this makes them 'strong' and strengthens their vocation.” (Mulieris Dignitatem)
When legislation, particularly pregnancy-related bills, removes the word “women,” it is seeking to enshrine in our laws ideology that rejects the unique beauty God gave to women by choosing us as mothers. God entrusts his creation (and his own Son) to the womb of a woman, not a man. That is something to be praised, and glorified, not erased; there is strength and dignity in that vocation given solely to women.
Fortunately, Senator Judith Zaffirini has filed SB 673 which is identical to HB 811 but preserves the word “woman” and we are supporting her bill. We will of course continue to actively oppose all bills that harm women and their children regardless of the language employed.
Pope Francis' prayer intention for February
We pray that parishes, placing communion at the center, may increasingly become communities of faith, fraternity and welcome toward those most in need.
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.
Upcoming Executions in Texas
Gary Green, March 7
Arthur Brown, Jr., March 9
Anibal Canales, Jr., March 29
Thomas Andre, April 5
Ivan Cantu, April 26
The Texas bishops ask for clemency for everyone on death row and pray for the abolition of the death penalty.