How Can They Say No Significant Fiscal Implication is Anticipated With a Straight Face?

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The next time someone tells you they are fiscally conservative but socially liberal, ask them if they vote for, donate to, or otherwise support any of the Republicans in the Texas legislature who supported HB 3994.

If so, they are voting counter to their beliefs and interests. Offer to bring them a sample ballot with some better options.

That sample ballot will be blue. In the Texas legislature, for the most part, only Democrats can claim the fiscally conservative, socially liberal label. Especially when it comes to reproductive healthcare and abortion.

Bills before the lege come with a fiscal note. The one attached to HB 3994 claimed it would have no significant fiscal implications to the state.

That analysis failed to take into account the lawsuit that will be filed as soon as the bill blocks a person from obtaining an abortion.

That analysis failed to take into account that HB 3994 was written expressly to trigger a lawsuit. It was drafted as part of a nationwide legislative strategy, orchestrated by ALEC and various anti-abortion policy organizations, to create legal challenges designed to overturne Roe v. Wade.

As passed, the law places multiple new restrictions on people trying to obtain an abortion, some of which include:

  • Restricting the venues in which a minor may seek a bypass.
  • Raising the evidenciary requirement to clear and convincing, the highest level of proof.
  • Lengthening the time a court can take to decide on a case, prolonging the minor’s timeline for obtaining an abortion.
  • Creating additional and duplicative reporting requirements, and shifting responsibility for who must give or receive notice to place a greater burden on doctors.
  • Adding reporting requirements for suspicions of abuse that involve law enforcement and jeopardize the security and privacy of the minor seeking an abortion.
  • Subjecting abortion providers to additional random, unannounced searches to check for compliance on top of the many regularly-scheduled and random inspections they already undergo.
  • Requiring that physicians become experts as assessing the validity of the forms of ID listed in §2.005(b) of the Texas Family Code so they can determine whether a patient is a minor.

The challenge will come because HB 3994 restricts the ability of a minor to secure a judicial bypass so severely that it goes well beyond prior Supreme Court jurisprudence on the matter. This came up in testimony on this and other bills. Legislators ignored the risk.

When the challenge is filed, the state will devote substantial staff time and money to defending a law designed to be an end run around the Supreme Court jurisprudence since Bellotti v. Baird.

I’m sure Ken Paxton will be glad for the distraction.

All of the professional anti-abortion experts the state will hire for advice, guidance, and testimony, meanwhile, will be grateful to the legislators for the additional revenue they’ll book.

Republicans in the legislature, cheered on by the governor, are so willing to squander state funds that they knowingly voted for a bill that not only denies a constitutional right to people seeking a legal medical procedure, but guarantees the state will spend big bucks on a trial it will very likely lose.

Republican legislators will stop championing anti-abortion laws when Republicans who claim to be fiscally conservative but socially liberal demand they stop.

Pro tip: in politics, not voting for someone, and voting instead for their opponent, is how you enforce such a demand.

Those of us who actually care about human beings, the constitution, bodily integrity, justice and equality, and wise stewardship of state dollars will be right over here—left over here might be more accurate—voting for Democrats. Invite your fiscally conservative but socially liberal friends to join us, and help them bring their votes into alignment with their values.

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