Mourning After & Hoping for the Future, We Call for a Consistent Life Texas!
Mourning After & Hoping for the Future, We Call for a Consistent Life Texas!
Thad Crouch (speaking of himself in the third person) offers this report:
Mourning after the Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) overturned two of four provisions of Texas law on medical regulations for abortion clinics —while also looking hopefully at two Texas death penalty cases that SCOTUS has accepted for review— the Consistent Life Network (CLN) was joined by spokes persons from a regional Pro-Life group, a state-wide peace group, and a “pro-lifetime” state senator in calling for Texas to become a consistent life state.
On June 28th, the morning after the SCOTUS abortion ruling on the Texas HB2 abortion law, Thad Crouch, CLN board member, facilitated a press conference on the south lawn of the Texas State Capitol. Heather Gardner, executive director of the Central Texas Coalition for Life was the main speaker on abortion while Crouch represented Pax Christi Texas to speak on the death penalty.
Texas State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr, of District 27 was scheduled to speak, but had to cancel for an urgent matter and issued a written statement. Lucio is known as the Texas “pro-lifetime” senator because he consistently votes in support of both the pro-life cause and issues concerning care for the living, such as funding health services for women and expanding adoption. He also wrote the 2005 “Life Without Parole” law to limit use of the Texas death penalty.
Crouch pointed out that the culture of death categorizes abortion as an issue of reproductive rights, women’s rights, and human rights, and speaks of the death penalty as solely a criminal justice issue, while CLN places both into the context of violence along with war, euthanasia, racism, and extreme poverty.
Senator Lucio’s statement included these words:
“As a pro-lifetime Senator, I remain steadfast in my belief in the sanctity of life. Because God, our Creator, created us in His image, my Catholic faith guides me to support policies that nurture, care for and protect all life — from conception to birth to natural death. This includes the life of the born and the unborn. . . . As a Christian, I pray that we never have the occasion of having the life of a woman be put at risk due to substandard facility conditions while undertaking an invasive medical procedure, such as a surgical abortion. I pray that the life of women is never — ever — put at risk if serious complications ever arise.”
Gardner has trained over 1,500 side walk counselors to help women in crisis pregnancies find loving alternatives to abortion. She explained that while the two provisions of HB2 that require FDA standards for administering abortion drugs and limit Texas abortions to 20 weeks remain in force, SCOTUS struck down provisions that required abortion clinic facilities to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers and required their physicians to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. She is very concerned for the safety of women after SCOTUS granted the abortion industry a pass from those standards to which other Texas surgical centers must adhere.
She asked “Why are low-income women being treated as second class citizens?”
Gardner noted that Whole Woman’s Health, the very abortion clinic which brought HB2 to court, has itself failed health inspections for numerous reasons, including unsanitary rusty instruments that go inside women’s bodies.
To show that the pro-life movement is much broader than the right-wing-Christian-only stereotype, CLN quoted statements from several of our member groups who responded to the SCOTUS ruling, such as Secular Pro-Life, Feminists For Life, All Our Lives and Democrats for Life as well as our friends at New Wave Feminists. Crouch then asked why the pro-choice movement opposed this law when their leaders keep saying they want abortion to be “safe, rare, and legal.” He invited pro-choice people to send him comments with their ideas to make abortion safer and more rare—including ideas to make society more just towards women.
Gardner responded to Crouch’s question about making abortion safe by pointing out that while pro-choice Texans opposed HB2, she actually did met some pro-choicers in favor of HB2 in 2013 when she was present at the Capitol while the bill was being debated by the Texas legislature. She explained that many former abortion clinic workers had conflicted consciences when they pointed out unsanitary conditions at clinics and their supervisors prioritized completing abortions above the health and safety of women.
Gardner has many friends who are former abortion clinic workers, due her role as a volunteer advocate for And Then There Were None (ATTN), an organization that helps clinic workers leave the abortion industry and heal their Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress or their moral injury.
As a matter of fact, when Abby Johnson, the founder of ATTN, left the abortion industry, it was Gardner whom she came to first. The Coalition for Life trains sidewalk counselors to be prayerful, friendly, gentle, and approachable, while offering help to both clinic patients and workers. This way of being of service outside abortion clinics has proven far more effective than carrying signs with scary pictures and being loud and angry. ATTN has so far helped over 150 clinic workers leave the abortion industry.
Responding to “making abortion rare,” Gardner relayed that while many abortion clinic workers truly do want to make abortion rare, the industry does not. Abby Johnson wrote in her book, Unplanned, that her supervisor ordered her to increase the abortion numbers at her clinic because “nonprofit is a tax status, not a business status.”
Gardner then articulated a connection between consistent life stands on abortion and the death penalty by reflecting on friendships she has with former abortion clinic workers. She pointed out that while some people make very bad decisions and harmful actions, even to kill people, “we condemn those actions, but there are people behind those actions.” Further she said, “We have an issue with our justice system that needs to be addressed and the solution is not to kill people.”
Speaking for Pax Christi Texas (PCT), a Catholic group which promotes justice and nonviolent peacemaking, Crouch called the death penalty an important life issue for Texas, which has executed more people than any other state. Further PCT called the death penalty flawed, unnecessary and expensive. Crouch said PCT prays for the victims of crime and their loved ones. He pointed out that Pope St. John Paul II changed the Catholic teaching on the death penalty so that the gravity of the crime is actually not a consideration, but rather the considerations are the sanctity & dignity of life for both the public and the criminal and the common good.
Crouch then told the story of Bishop Daniel Garcia, the auxiliary bishop of the Austin Diocese, meeting Pope Francis at Papal mass on the border of the United States and Mexico. When Bishop Garcia said he was from Austin, Pope Francis said, “Austin, Texas!?! Don’t give up the fight to end the death penalty in Texas!” In May, Bishop Garcia passed that same imperative to PCT and the Respect Life Ministry at St. Ignatius Martyr Catholic parish in Austin when the two groups met with him to discuss this life issue.
Crouch said it broke his heart that when the Pope thinks of Texas he doesn’t think of cowboys, rodeos, or brisket, but the death penalty.
He requested that those who stand for life by working to end the death penalty open their hearts to the possibility of extending their empathy to the lives of the unborn by considering that abortion is a torturous death.
Speaking once again as CLN, Crouch invited Texans to create a consistent life Texas that was consistently pro-life on both abortion and the death penalty:.
“If we merely see only most people as having lives of value worth protecting, and just one category of people whose lives we think are of less value, or don’t deserve protection—whether that’s because of nationality, politics, race, or religion, or whether or not it’s because someone was convicted of a terrible crime, or whether or not they’ve been born yet, or whether they are terminally ill, or whether they are in extreme poverty— if we have just one category the we think is not worth protecting, then we have something in common with the Orlando shooter.”