In what has become a contentious race to become the next Speaker of the Texas state House of Representatives, two key candidates have responded to a pro-life survey from a state organization.
On November 15, officials with Texas Alliance for Life hand-delivered a candidate survey to the office of each of the three Republican candidates for House Speaker, including Warren Chisum (R-Pampa), Ken Paxton (R-McKinney), and current Speaker Joe Strauss (R-San Antonio).
The survey has 10 short questions on issues important to pro-life Texans, including issues regarding overturning Roe v. Wade, partial-birth abortion, public funding for embryonic stem cell research, and public funding for Planned Parenthood.
This is the same survey TAL sent to all candidates for Texas Senate and Representatives in the primary and general election contests.
“Both Warren Chisum and Ken Paxton responded within a day and gave answers consistent with the positions of Texas Alliance for Life,” said Joe Pojman, the director of the group. “Joe Straus did not respond.”
The race has received national attention as some conservatives, on the issue of abortion and other political issues have called for electing someone other than Strauss as the next speaker because of what they say is a lack of progress under his leadership on key issues.
Erick Erickson of the RedState blog has gone after Strauss on pro-life issues, even though the Speaker says he is fully pro-life and has the support of some pro-life advocates.
“Joe Straus has a 100% rating from NARAL, but the same people saying Straus is conservative also say he is pro-life. I’m sorry, but pro-lifers do not get 100% ratings from NARAL nor do their spouses sit on the boards of abortion organizations,” he said. “Pro-lifers are not honored by Planned Parenthood, but Joe Straus was.”
Another statewide pro-life group, Texas Right to Life, is opposed to Strauss as is Carol Everett of The Heidi Group; Cathie Adams, former GOP Chair and Texas Eagle Forum liaison; Margaret Hotze of Life Advocates; Ann Hettinger of Concerned Women for America; and Kelly Shackelford of Liberty Institute.
They say they are opposed to him in part because Straus appointed Joe Pickett to the committee that denied a hearing on the Choose Life license plate bill and dragged his feet on the ultrasound measure.
That bill, SB 182, passed the Senate on May 1 and took almost a month for it to reach the House calendar, on May 26. When it did, it was too late to be passed before the end of the legislative session.
They also say Straus was a coauthor of the so-called “Texas Prevention First Act,” a Planned Parenthood bill that would have changed how sex education is taught. Planned Parenthood had HB 1842 as one of its top priorities to pass in 2007. This bill was also supported by NARAL/Pro-Choice America, NOW, and the ACLU of Texas.
Pojman, of Texas Alliance for Life, in his email to LifeNews.com about the survey results, talked about the importance of the election for Speaker.
“The Speaker of the House of Representatives is one of the three most powerful offices in state government, along with Governor and Lt. Governor,” he said. “The Speaker controls the success or failure of bills by appointing chairs of all of the House committees and the complete membership of the powerful Calendars Committee, which must approve each bill before it can be considered by the full House.”
The members of the state House will vote for a new Speaker on the first day of the next session — Tuesday, January 11.