Just got a notice from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s office that tomorrow, on Pro-Life Lobby Day, Dewhurst “will speak in support of legislation which would require all women considering abortion be offered an ultrasound image of their unborn child and the opportunity to hear its heartbeat prior to receiving an abortion.” Chalk up another victory for Sen. Dan Patrick, the bill’s author. You’ll remember that Patrick earlier this session prompted the Senate to abandon its long-held 21-vote tradition for the sole purpose of passing the highly partisan Voter ID bill. Patrick’s ultrasound bill, which also got a shout-out from Gov. Rick Perry during his State of the State address, passed the Senate last session and died in the House. Are you ready for this one, Joe Straus? Two thoughts: One, using a serious women’s health issue as an opportunity for political posturing in preparation for the next election is just downright tacky. Two, if Dewhurst, Perry and Patrick really want to do something to reduce abortions, they would weigh in with public policy when it mattered: before an unwanted pregnancy occurred. As Slate national correspondent William Saleton wrote in a Sunday New York Times op-ed column, “Pro-lifers tend to show up after a woman is pregnant, imagining that laws and preaching will make her bear a child she doesn’t want. They’re mistaken. Worse, they are too late. To prevent abortions, we have to prevent unintended pregnancies.” Saleton’s answer? “An ethic of contraception…It is a loving, conscientious way to prevent the conception of a child you can’t bear to raise and don’t want to abort. It’s an act of responsibility and respect for life.” As for abstinence, Saleton says its a “worth aspiration” but “foolish” as a national policy. “Mating is the engine of history. It has overpowered every stricture put in its way.” I think he was paraphrasing Bristol Palin. I characterize this bill as posturing because it won’t do anything to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in Texas. I’d like to hear if Dewhurst has any plans to show real respect for life by preventing careless conception by Texans who aren’t ready to parent.
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