Texas Pro-Life Group Backs Paxton Over Straus for Speaker

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 29, 2010   |   12:41PM   |   Austin, TX

In the latest move in the contentious debate over the next Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, Texas Alliance for Life announced today it has endorsed Rep. Ken Paxton.

Paxton, a Republican from McKinney is facing off against Rep. Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) and current Speaker Joe Straus of San Antonio.

TAL informed LifeNews.com today of the endorsement and said it urges all incumbent and newly-elected state representatives to support him in that race. Texas Alliance for Life also encourages pro-life Texans to contact their state representatives and urge them to support Rep. Paxton.

“We enthusiastically endorse pro-life Representative Ken Paxton for Speaker of the Texas House,” said Joe Pojman, executive director of the pro-life group.

“Texas deserves a committed, pro-life Speaker like Ken Paxton who will work to protect our most vulnerable Texans: the more than 80,000 innocent unborn children who die each year in Texas’ abortion facilities. Ken has great integrity, and we believe he will allow the House to vote on greatly-needed, highly popular, pro-life bills that were passed last session by the Texas Senate but failed to pass the Texas House,” he said.

Pojman also announced that the vote for speaker will be used in Texas Alliance for Life’s determination of the pro-life rating for each State Representative. He stated, “We intend to score the vote for speaker because we believe it will likely be among the most important votes in the 82nd Session.”

“Speaker Straus cannot be called pro-life. He has failed to pledge to oppose public funding for Planned Parenthood, received a $1,000 campaign contribution from a Planned Parenthood PAC, and has been given high praise by Planned Parenthood for his ‘tireless efforts’ during the last legislative session,” Pojman said.

Straus has praised Planned Parenthood, saying “they do so much good on the family planning and the women’s health issues.”

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.

Another statewide pro-life group, Texas Right to Life, is opposed to Straus 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.

The TAL endorsement comes after the pro-life organization noted Chisum and Paxton responded to its questionnaire but Straus did not.

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. 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 Pojman at the time. “Joe Straus did not respond.”

Paxton has a strong history of authoring and supporting pro-life legislation supported by pro-life groups.

In 2007, he authored House Bill 225, with the bipartisan support of 50 House members, to prevent state public funding of embryonic stem cell research, which requires the destruction of human embryos. In 2007 Paxton authored the “Choose Life” license plate bill, House Bill 224. In 2009, Paxton co-authored the sonogram bill, House Bill 36, as well as the “Choose Life” license plate bill, House Bill 109.

Straus co-authored House Bill 2704, a phony ban on human cloning. House Bill 2704 would allow the creation of living, human embryos by any “method other than fertilization” (i.e., human cloning) and would require the destruction of those embryos before implantation.