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Texas “Pro Life” Groups Disagree on Lawmaker Scorecard

Todd Wiseman

Texas Right to Life creates a scorecard that gives lawmakers a grade based on anti-abortion and end-of-life issue voting.  The card holds quite a bit of weight with Republicans, and the way they vote reported Becca Aaronson for The Texas Tribune

The Texas Catholic Conference lobbies on behalf of the 15 Roman Catholic bishops of Texas and their dioceses.  The Conference says the Texas Right to Life group misrepresented politicians committed to both anti-abortion causes and rights of the terminally ill to flex political power.  At the core of the criticism is the scorecard’s penalties for lawmakers and legislation that would have amended the state’s Advance Directives Act.

Elizabeth Graham is the director of Texas Right to Life.  She says the legislation endorsed by the Catholic bishops “was an expansion of involuntary euthanasia and imposed death.” She added, “We would not support any candidate who would support such a measure.”

Graham said that the group’s scorecard was “calculated on our legislative priorities, which we communicate to members before and during the session.” She said the group travels the state seeking input from lawmakers and stakeholders to build their agenda before the session and reminds lawmakers multiple times how they will be scored.

Jeffrey Patterson is the executive director of the Texas Catholic Conference.  He wrote a letter to legislators saying Texas Right to Life selectively counted votes and haphazardly assigned points to attack lawmakers who supported SB 303 instead of the bill it backed. As a result, he said, the scorecard misleads voters and unfairly characterizes lawmakers who have spent their careers supporting “pro-life” issues.

Texas Right to Life attributed a third of its scorecard to the end-of-life issue: Lawmakers who supported SB 303 or its House companion, House Bill 1444 received 56 out of 100 points on average. Texas Right to Life deemed 12 Republican members of the Senate and 17 Republican House members “disappointments” — even though they backed strict new abortion regulations — because they supported SB 303 or HB 1444.