One of the most appalling examples of the contempt many politicians and religious-right activists have for the freedom of Texans to make even the most intimate decisions about their own health care was the case of Marlise Muñoz last year. Marlise was 14 weeks into a pregnancy when she suffered a pulmonary embolism. Although doctors declared her brain dead and she had previously made it clear to her family that she wanted to forego medical intervention in such a circumstance, the hospital argued that Texas law forced it to keep Marlise’s body hooked up to machines until the fetus was delivered or died.

As an NPR story pointed out, the hospital “maintained a corpse against the wishes of the family, for the protection of a fetus that couldn’t live.” Her family fought in court for two months for the right to respect Marlise’s expressed wishes. Her husband was even forced to sue the hospital for “cruel and obscene mutilation of a corpse.” Eventually, a state judge ordered the hospital to obey the wishes of Marlise and her family and unhook her body from its machines.

Right-wing politicians like state Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, have sneeringly questioned the motives of Marlise’s devastated family. One has even filed legislation this year that would require the… Read More

We have very good news to share regarding at least one of the proposed constitutional amendments in Texas this year that would allow government officials and individuals to use religion to discriminate. Late Monday afternoon, state Rep. Jason Villalba sent out a press release saying that he intends to “reconsider entirely” his proposed HJR 55. That amendment, as well as state Sen. Donna Campbell’s SJR 10, would replace the state’s existing Religious Freedom Restoration Act with new language that essentially throws open the door to allowing religion to be used as a weapon to discriminate and harm others.

Now Rep. Villalba’s statement makes clear he will not press forward with his amendment. His announcement comes after leaders in the Texas business community made it clear that they oppose both HJR 55 and SJR 10.

We just sent out the following press release:

TFN PRESIDENT APPLAUDS LAWMAKER’S DECISION TO ‘RECONSIDER ENTIRELY’ PROPOSED HJR 55 

Proposed Constitutional Amendment Would Open the Door to Discrimination in Texas

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller today applauded the decision by state Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, to “reconsider entirely” a proposed constitutional amendment that would essentially replace… Read More

Anti-abortion extremists in Texas are pushing new legislation that would make it even more difficult, if not impossible, for millions of Texans to have access to safe, legal and affordable abortion care. This time they’re doing so by attacking private health insurance offered through the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), or “Obamacare.”

Extremists have long attacked the the ACA for allegedly forcing federal taxpayers to “subsidize” abortions. But they haven’t been telling the truth.

Since the passage of the so-called Hyde Amendment in the late 1970s, federal law has barred the use of federal funds to pay for abortion except in the cases of rape or incest and if the life of the mother is endangered. The ACA doesn’t change that. From the Henry K. Kaiser Family Foundation’s excellent website detailing the provisions of the ACA:

The ACA reinforces the current Hyde Amendment restrictions, continuing to limit federal funds to pay for pregnancy terminations that endanger the life of the woman or that are a result of rape or incest. State Medicaid programs continue to have the option to cover abortions in other circumstances using only state funds and no federal funds. President Obama issued an executive order as part of health reform that restated the federal limits specifically… Read More

Here’s another great video from last month’s Faith Advocacy Day at the Texas Capitol, during which people of faith and faith leaders stood for full equality for all LGBT Texans.

This clips is of Rev. Eric Folkerth of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas. A transcripts of his prepared remarks follow the video.

You can join the campaign at texasbelieves.org.

We are gathered here today at our state capitol as a new coalition of faith leaders from around our great state. We come for different faith traditions, but we stand today with a common voice and goal: We seek the just treatment of our LGBT brothers and sisters under the law of the state.

We believe passionately that there are many places throughout our state, and even at the state level, where addition protections under the law are needed for our LGBT friends. Our message is actually a positive one. We believe these laws strengthen every Texas family, bring together our communities, and protect rights in a way that is important for all of us.

My own commitment to this cause comes from the blessings I have received as the pastor of Northaven Church in Dallas. Our… Read More

Today the Texas Freedom Network joined with six coalition partners for a “Call to Action” on reproductive health care at the Texas Capitol. Here’s the joint press release we sent out:

TEXANS DEMAND ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE

Attacks on Reproductive Health Care Must Be Stopped, Advocates, Faith Leaders, and Lawmakers Tell Crowd

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 26, 2015

Today a diverse group of Texans from across the state joined forces with a broad coalition of organizations at the Texas State Capitol to call on lawmakers to support policies that restore trust in Texans to make their own reproductive health care decisions, respect for health care professionals, and access to safe, timely abortion care.

Speaking at an event on the Capitol steps, Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of Whole Woman’s Health, explained that the Trust. Respect. Access. campaign aims to build a movement for reproductive freedom in Texas.

“Texans have endured tremendous political interference that has eroded access to quality healthcare across the state, all based on the lies of extremist politicians,” she said. “Today we commit to change the conversation around abortion, reverse some of the most restrictive policies on reproductive healthcare and push… Read More