This column first appeared Nov. 1 in the Houston Chronicle.
This month marks the 100th anniversary of the organization that we know today as Planned Parenthood. Please excuse us for not celebrating the occasion. Planned Parenthood, after all, is the largest abortion provider in America, accounting for one out of every three abortions. Over the course of its existence, Planned Parenthood has been responsible for the deaths of almost 7 million unborn children. And let's not forget that, just recently, employees of Planned Parenthood were caught on video discussing the sale of body parts from aborted babies - a potential crime for which Planned Parenthood has yet to be held to account.
Planned Parenthood's callous disregard for human life stands as a stark reminder that one of our highest ideals - that all people are endowed by God with the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - remains unfulfilled. Planned Parenthood believes that unborn babies who are unwanted are undeserving of life.
Fortunately, most Texans disagree. The people of Texas have embraced the truth that is written on every human heart - that children are a God-given blessing who not only bring joy and fulfillment but, perhaps most important, who teach us to love unconditionally.
That is why Texas has been at the forefront of efforts over many years to protect both the lives of unborn children and the well-being of their mothers. In 2011, the Texas Legislature passed a sonogram bill that is credited with dramatically decreasing abortions in Texas. That same year, Texas also launched efforts to exclude Planned Parenthood from receiving funds under state programs, demonstrating our state's commitment to preventing tax dollars from subsidizing abortion providers.
In 2013, the Texas Legislature passed the Preborn Pain Act as part of a larger bill to ensure the health and safety of women at abortion clinics. While the Supreme Court has since struck down the health and safety provisions - wrongly, we believe - the Preborn Pain Act still stands. That law prohibits abortionists from taking the life of an unborn child at 20 weeks or later - the stage at which science tells us that the unborn baby can feel pain.
Just last year, the Legislature enacted additional measures to advance the cause of life and took further steps to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving state funds. It ensured that the parents of unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome receive educational materials that avoid encouraging abortion, and it increased funding for alternatives to abortion, such as adoption.
While Texas continues to lead on pro-life issues, it cannot alone win the struggle for life. The federal government must also take action. Congress should, once and for all, end all taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, and it should enact the Conscience Protection Act, which would prohibit the federal government, as well as state and local governments that receive federal dollars for health-related activities, from penalizing doctors for refusing to perform an abortion in violation of their conscience.
Congress should also pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which, like Texas' Preborn Pain Act, would prohibit the killing of unborn children at 20 weeks and beyond. Finally, Congress should enact the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would require doctors to treat a child who survives an attempted abortion the same as any other child who is born alive.
These are reasonable, common-sense proposals, but the abortion lobby and virtually all Democrats oppose them. Why? Because to support these measures would require them to admit that, at least sometimes, unborn children are worth protecting. This is an admission of the essential humanity of the child that they are unwilling to make. Nothing is more extreme than that.
We hope and pray that someday America's unborn children will be able to claim that most precious of human rights - the right to life. Until then, we will redouble our efforts to persuade our fellow citizens of the justice of our cause, to save as many unborn children as we possibly can, and to protect women from an abortion industry that preys on them and their children.