April 23, 2009
Sometimes the clock is your friend

I've said many times by now that the slow pace of this legislative session will threaten the prospects of many a bill. In some cases, that's a good thing.

After months with little or no action, Texas lawmakers are stirring up the emotional cauldron that always brews with abortion-related bills.

A House committee was hearing testimony on a bill that would require women seeking abortions to first have an ultrasound and be shown the results. A Senate panel on Tuesday approved creating new "Choose Life" license plates.

With less than two months left in a session dominated by fights over voter identification bills, insurance and federal stimulus money, supporters of the major abortion-related bills are hoping they can whip their issue back to the forefront.

"There's time," said Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life. "It's kind of like an aircraft: Either you have altitude or you have speed. We have less altitude but I think we're getting speed before you crash ... It's going to be crunch time soon."


So far, the ultrasound bill has stalled in the Senate.

The bill by Sen. Dan Patrick, a Houston Republican and conservative radio talk-show host, would require women seeking an abortion to have the ultrasound but gives them the option of whether to view the images. It passed the Senate Health and Human Services committee but is stuck waiting for a full Senate vote that may never come.


In the House, the ultrasound bill has 59 out of the 150 House members signed on in support. It was in the lineup in the House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

Blake Rocap, legislative counsel for NARAL Pro-Choice of Texas, which opposes the ultrasound bill, predicts that's as far as it will go. House members are still congratulating themselves over passing a unanimous budget and won't want to peel back the lid on such an emotional issue, Rocap said.

Patrick's bill is SB182; its House companion is HB36, which had its committee hearing on Tuesday as noted, though no vote yet. That's probably the most pernicious anti-abortion legislation out there. If the clock runs out on it and the silly "Choose Life" license plates legislation, it's all to the good. Naturally, all bets are off in the event of a special session, as Governor Perry will surely not miss the chance to do a little overtime pandering to his base. But for now, on these matters, the sands through the hourglass are working in our favor.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 23, 2009 to That's our Lege
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