How Texas Right to Life tries to abort the pro-life cause
TRANSCRIPT: I don’t talk about social issues a whole lot, and people get concerned that I don’t talk about those things. But let me say in high school and college, I was very involved in evangelical Christianity. During and after college I was a youth minister and then went to a seminary, to Asbury Seminary, a Wesleyan holiness seminary. I’ve learned the ins and outs (of the predominant social issues), and I understand the discussions. But I do believe that, to borrow a phrase from Houston Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg, to a large extent, social issues in Texas politics today have become weapons of mass distraction. That’s provable by the environment in Texas politics today. I one-hundred percent believe this to be the truth.
Where I come at all this political environment from, in trying to talk about issues on the other side of Texas, my premise is this: If you’ve got social issues you’re concerned about, that assumes that you’ve got a society in which to hold those views. And in more and more of the other sides of Texas, in rural contexts, this assumption is more and more questionable. To get off and to focus on these social issues, while important, and I believe they are very important, but I think that they are leveraged by groups to distract and to oftentimes exploit good, God-fearing, honest people and cajole them into voting against their own economic interest.
Now, I’m the most pro-life guy around, and everybody knows it. You want to come at me on social media streets and say you’re more pro-life than me, I’ll put your virtual teeth on a virtual internet curb and American History X stomp the back of your virtual head. That’s how hardcore pro-life I am. To prove it, you come to my house at 6:00 AM any day of the week, and what you’ll see are three kiddos who were born 20 months apart from one another (our daughter is 10 and our twin boys who are eight) and then a little surprise who’s four years old.
Speaking of pro-life, I struggled for a long time with the vasectomy issue. I should have given you a warning to turn down your radios if you got young ears listening… Three, two, one. But at least I’m not the lieutenant governor getting a vasectomy while I’m on live radio. But that was a big issue for me, to wrestle through that, to talk with friends and then with ministers, to make that decision, although it is “reversible,” it was a considerable decision. But anyway, my house is a wild party at 6:00 AM.
In college, I had a bumper sticker, and it said, “I survived Roe v. Wade.” I drew cartoons for, what at the time was called, the University Daily at Texas Tech. I drew a baby in the womb holding a Bush 2000 sign– a baby with fret on its face holding a Bush 2000 sign. I drew another cartoon that caused this huge uproar. It was a Texas Tech maintenance guy, his back was towards the viewer, urinating in the big fountain at the front of campus, and the other maintenance guy leaning into the shot and saying, he says, “It’s his body, his choice.” The cartoon delineated there that there are social implications to that which is often billed a “personal decision.” The first (social implication) is the baby involved, and the second is the extension of others involved in it.
In youth ministry, I’d take a couple hundred kids on mission trips. One mission trip we did a few summers, was to go to New Orleans. We would work with a pro-life group in New Orleans, and requisite for participation on that trip was that they come one night before the trip, with an adult family member, and we watched Silent Scream.
Silent Scream, if you’ve not seen it, is a classic pro-life, I guess made in the ’70s. I hadn’t seen it of late. But whenever a kid, kids have B.S. barometer like nobody else, whenever they or anyone else see an abortion, you cringe because it’s not right. It’s intrinsically, intuitionally, instinctively not right. Not by the natural law or God’s law, and I firmly believe that. I’ve seen (the consequences of abortion) play out with … I’ve had to minister to young women who’ve had abortions, and they are not all right. And it’s just not right.
Now, in Texas politics today, there are groups who tap into this intuition and this instinct, and they exploit for their political purposes, often well-capitalized political purposes.
I mean, think about it. If you were going to build the Narwhal of political machines, what would you do? You would stack up your own economic and political interests. You would say, for example: “Imagine if we could tap into Texas education dollars. That would be a huge cash cow. We’ll do it with false pretension, and we’ll call it by different names, vouchers, school choice, but we want those dollars. That’s in our interest.” There are groups out there right now, and that’s their aim.
Number two, you would say, “Well, we need there to be tax caps and appraisal caps to help break local government,” for whatever purpose, and so on. Then you would flank your own economic and political interests with a big tank, with a big pro-life tank, and any time an elected leader did not do what you wanted them to do on your own political, economic interests, whether that’s vouchers, or tax caps, whatever the case might be, you would fire the pro-life tank at them. And by fire the tank, I mean send thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars worth of mailers into their districts to mislead and tempt good, God-fearing people. Grandma Moses is sitting there, and she gets a mailer that says, “So-and-so is for abortion.” And it’s NOT that the elected official voted against pro-life issues. It’s that they did not kowtow on the other issues. Groups weaponize the issue of abortion.
If you can hear disdain growing in my voice, it’s because this is the grossest kind of politics– and I say that from a pro-life position. These elected leaders defy you on other issues, and so you fire the abortion tank at them, and it’s despicable. A guy has a 100% voting record by an organization’s own scorecard for several sessions, and then they don’t kowtow on the political and economic issues, and so they move the goalposts, and they turn on them anyway.
That’s exactly the case right now in Texas politics, and to name names, and it’s not everyone involved in this organization, but it’s certainly the leadership of this organization, and it’s called Texas Right to Life. Whenever you get mailers, you need to look at whether or not it came from Texas Right to Life, because it has an association with Empower Texans, and whenever elected leaders don’t kowtow to Empower Texans’ economic and political interests, then they utilize the tank that is Texas Right to Life to blow them up.
Case in point: I’m looking at Texas Right to Life’s scorecards right now, and I see (state) Representative Dan Flynn, and I see Chris Paddie out of East Texas, and Wayne Faircloth Galveston, South Texas. Giovanni Capriglione. These guys all have multiple 100-percent ratings from Texas Right to Life, but they defied Empower Texans, and they defied other interests on policy concerns, political and economic, and so: boom-boom, bang goes the Texas Right to Life tank. Thousands of dollars floated in mailers into districts. And they falsely portray the issue, and it’s just an absolute distortion of facts, and it’s lying to good and sincere people, and they bastardized the very cause that they proclaim to uphold, and that is innocent life.
This is why the Democrats have made movement on (the pro-choice) issue, because it’s so blatantly apparent in Texas political circles that these, that, well, Texas Right to Life specifically, is a front for these other groups, and whenever you don’t kowtow to them, you get hit with those issues. There are good people like Texas Alliance for Life, and this is Dr. Joe Pojman. And Kyleen Wright (of Texans for Life). They hit the places that can still be hit under federal law. They do that, and they’ve been doing it for decades now, and not out of self-interest. They are committed to this issue, and I applaud Texas Alliance for Life.
Now, back to the ministry thing. This is the other side of the issue that I want to get into. I’ve spent a lot of time with an organization in the Dominican Republic. It’s called Jackie’s House, you can google it. Sweet Jackie takes children in, most of them abandoned, often handicapped, always poor, and they are the children of Haitian prostitutes, by and large. Being involved with Jackie and being involved there has really challenged me to a full commitment to life and all of life and, if we’re going to throw Bible stuff around, a biblical integrity on the issue of life before and after the womb.
Let me back up. Freakonomics, if you’ve ever read Freakonomics, you know the premise of the book comes from Steve Levitt, who’s an economist at the University of Chicago. He came out with a study that made the Left and the Right irate when he correlated a link between legalized abortion and then crime rates falling some 18, 20 years later. Levitt’s premise was that, in most cases, abortions take place in poor minority demographics, and he made that correlation. You can read more Freakonomics about that, but I just, I look at this issue now, and I think about Jackie’s House and the way that this abortion issue is being exploited in Texas, and look…
Headline: “Federal judge says Texas still needs oversight to fix its ‘broken’ foster care system.”
Headline. “Texas denied thousands of students special ed services.” Headline. “Texas Medicaid cuts leave special needs kids,” kids that often have g-tubes, kids that oftentimes live in wheelchairs, and their families are committed to life, and they can’t get this therapy that they need because we’re cutting those programs. The very same people who holler the loudest about pro-life, and this is the shame of it, have done nothing or little on these issues. Now, I understand that there was a rush to try to fix things in the last legislature, but the fact of the matter is, those things don’t happen overnight, and many of us are disingenuous whenever we say that we are for these things.
Now, that’s just further proof that this issue, by many, has been bastardized. They have no shame in exploiting and in distorting the truth to good people with sincere moral concerns, and they have no shame in exploiting the blood of murdered babies to achieve political and economic policy objectives for their own political and economic interest.
That’s the other side intro right there. We’re going to go to a quick break. We’re going to be back. About a minute, maybe 90 seconds. I’ll have to look at the rundown. I got too worked up.
Note: Minor edits to this Feb 12 OSTX monologue transcript have been performed to help readability. Apologies to Ms. Falkenberg for calling her Lauren on-air. JL