In the wake of yesterday's court ruling blocking Texas from implementing portions of its newly passed pro-life law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their abortion facility, it becomes even more clear why we must have a Texas Attorney General who is as solidly pro-life as our current AG, Greg Abbott. After a little research into the records of the candidates to succeed Abbott, it is apparent one candidate does not fill those shoes - Dan Branch.
During the 79th Legislature (2005) SB 419 was introduced to continue functions of some medical boards in Texas. During the debate on this bill in the House, Representative Dan Branch authored an amendment to allow and expand 3rd trimester abortions.
Texas law restricts these late term abortions to cases where the baby has irreversible brain damage. Branch's amendment sought to expand this to irreversible damage to a "vital organ". After Branch argued in support of his amendment, the House voted to table it. Branch joined with House Democrats to vote "Nay" on the motion to table.
Democrats will continue to use the courts to overturn advances made to protect life by Republicans in the Texas Legislature. We must have an Attorney General whose commitment to pro-life issues is unquestionable. After yesterday's court ruling, General Abbott filed an emergency appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Branch's record raises concern about whether he would have filed a similar appeal.
General Abbott's spokeswoman, Lauren Bean, issued a statement yesterday on behalf of the Attorney General. “The court upheld part of the law and enjoined part of the law. The State has already appealed the court’s ruling. We appreciate the trial court’s attention in this matter. As everyone – including the trial court judge – has acknowledged, this is a matter that will ultimately be resolved by the appellate courts or the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman, a candidate for Texas Attorney General, reaffirmed his committment to pro-life issues in a statement yesterday.“I am disappointed by Judge Yeakel’s ruling," Smitherman stated, "but I applaud General Abbott’s decision to seek an emergency appeal. As Attorney General, I will vigorously defend Pro-Life laws in the state of Texas. Judge Yeakel’s inappropriate refusal to acknowledge that the statute was rationally related to preserving the life of unborn children and protecting women’s health will hopefully be corrected upon appellate review.”
Perhaps this attempt by Branch to expand abortion rights in Texas was behind Texas Right to Life's omission of Dan Branch in their recent endorsements of Barry Smitherman and Ken Paxton. His being left off that list was a clear statement by this leading pro-life group.
If you are a pro-life voter in the 2014 Republican Primary, I think it is safe to say you can take Dan Branch off your list for consideration. Texas needs a solidly pro-life Attorney General and Dan Branch doesn't cut it.