In this issue of the Texas Catholic Voice:

  • Senate bills addressing prolife and essential caregiver visitation rights
  • Bills in committee this week
  • Novena to St. Isidore and Marian shrine Rosary schedule
  • And more!

A Message from Jennifer Allmon, Executive Director

Contact House Calendars Committee and ask them to set SB 394!

This is the week when many bills die, as House bills have to be set by Tuesday. While we would like House bills to be set, the reality is by the time most of you read this, time has run out for House bills, so this issue focuses on Senate bills being heard in the House.

The TCCB is working with our colleagues and partners on many bills, but our priority this week is SB 394, which enhances the safety of medical abortion for women and prevents remote prescribing or over-the-counter use without a physical examination, ultrasound, or labs.

We are seeing more news stories about the likelihood that the Biden administration will change the FDA rules regarding use of remote prescribing for abortion. There is an increased urgency to protect women in Texas from the complications of this kind of abortion.

In 2000, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the distribution and use of mifepristone. Mifeprex is the brand name for mifepristone or RU-486. It blocks progesterone receptors and causes the death of the baby. Misoprostol is taken one to two days later and causes uterine contractions which expel the baby. This type of abortion is called “chemical abortion” or “drug-induced abortion.”

Our current state regulations regarding chemical abortion are based on the FDA REMS (Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy). If the REMS are eliminated, women will be harmed and further exploited by the abortion industry for huge profit.

Moreover, without this bill abortions will increase, especially telemedicine abortions on minor girls, potentially without parental consent. It is essential the Texas Legislature pass this bill now to prevent abortion expansion this fall.

This bill creates state level protocol and procedures on abortion-inducing drugs that are independent of the FDA REMS. It's urgent that SB 394 moves forward. Please contact the House Calendars Committee on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday of this week and ask them to set SB 394.

House Calendars Committee members are Representatives Dustin Burrows (chair), Joe Moody (vice-chair), Tom Craddick, Cody Harris, Cole Hefner, Ana Hernandez, Ben Leman, Jared Patterson, Toni Rose, Shelby Slawson and James Talarico. Their contact information is available here.

Likewise, it's important SB 650 moves forward. This bill prohibits governmental entities from funding any logistical support for assisting a woman with procurement of an abortion. The TCCB supports this bill to prevent taxpayers from funding any aspect of accessing an abortion.

Essential caregiver visitation

One of the lessons we learned from the pandemic is the need for support of family and other loved ones. Please let your Senator know you support SB 25 and SJR 19. These pieces of legislation establish the right of residents in nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and state supported living centers to essential caregiver visitation. SB 25 directs HHSC to develop guidelines to assist facilities in establishing essential caregiver visitation policies and procedures including at least two hour daily visits, social distancing, PPE, health screenings, viral testing, and contact tracing. The TCCB supports this bill and SJR 19, a joint resolution, to promote the health and well-being of the vulnerable and elderly.

Bills in Committee May 10-13

Senate Finance Committee, Monday at 10 a.m.

SB 734 by Sen. Angela Paxton provides a property tax exemption for charitable organizations serving persons with disabilities and mothers facing an unplanned pregnancy. The TCCB supports this bill.

HB 115 by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez and Sen. Kel Seliger broadens the property tax exemption for charitable organizations related to services provided to homeless individuals. The TCCB supports this bill.

HB 1197 by Rep. Will Metcalf and Sen. Donna Campbell extends tax exemptions for land owned by religious organizations for the purposes of expanding or constructing a place of worship. The TCCB supports this bill.

Senate State Affairs Committee, Monday at 1 p.m.

HB 1239 by Rep. Scott Sanford and Sen. Angela Paxton protects religious freedom and prohibits closure of places of worship. The TCCB supports this bill.

House Human Services Committee, Tuesday at 8 a.m.

SB 910 by Sen. Charles Schwertner make improves to the foster care system through the provision of community-based family preservation services. The TCCB supports this bill.

House Public Health Committee, Wednesday at 8 a.m.

SB 442 by Sen. Bryan Hughes increases respect for parental rights in sexuality education. The TCCB supports this bill.

Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Wednesday at 8 a.m.

HB 3041 by Rep. James Frank and Sen. Lois Kolkhorst establishes a pilot program for family preservation services. The TCCB supports this bill.

 

Prayer opportunities

Please join our bishops, including Bishop Brendan Cahill of Victoria and Bishop Michael Sis of San Angelo, as we pray a novena to St. Isidore, patron saint of rural life. This virtual novena is being hosted by Catholic Rural Life and began Friday, May 7. The novena, in English and Spanish, and other resources can be found at Catholic Rural Life's website.

Join the daily live broadcast of the recitation of the Rosary in link-ups with Marian shrines around the world, as part of the May marathon of prayer called by Pope Francis. "Guided by Shrines around the world during this month of May, we recite the Rosary to invoke an end to the pandemic and the resumption of social and work-related activities." (Pope Francis, General Audience, 5 May 2021). The Rosary is prayed each day at 11 am CST and available for view on demand. A schedule with links is here.

Upcoming Texas Executions

Quintin Jones - 5/19/21 (Pending as of 5/921)

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 May

We pray for those who risk their lives while fighting for fundamental rights under dictatorships, authoritarian regimes and even in democracies in crisis.

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.