During the last legislative session, one of the most outspoken opponents of SB 5 (the anti-abortion bill filibustered by Wendy Davis that was eventually passed as HB 2) was the Texas Medical Association. They calledthe bill a “legislative intrusion into the patient-physician relationship” that “sets a dangerous precedent of the legislature prescribing the details of the practice of medicine.” Their supposedly nonpartisan opinion was cited frequently as proof that the bill was medically unsound.
However, as we reported last year, the Texas Medical Association was one of the main reasons the legislators who sponsored SB 5 were in office. TMA endorsed 4 of the House authors of HB 2, and two of the Senate authors and sponsors of the bill.
One would think that after supposedly violating TMA’s principles so egregiously, the organization would cease to support these elected officials. That didn’t happen–instead TMA gave the authors and sponsors of HB 2 even more money this election.
Last year, TMA gave tens of thousands of dollars to candidates who were directly tied to HB 2, either as authors or sponsors. The table below shows the HB 2 candidates who received donations from TMA, as well as how much they received for the general election. (Taken from publicly available data at the Texas Ethics Commission:
|Greg Bonnen (HD-24)||$3,000|
|Glenn Hegar (Comptroller)||$10,000|
|Phil King (HD-61)||$300|
|Jodie Laubenberg (HD-89)||$1,500|
|Ken Paxton (Attorney General)||$15,000|
TMA also gave tens of thousands of dollars to a host of other anti-choice candidates, including:
Donna Campbell (SD-25): Received $11,000 from TMA. Endorsed by Texas Alliance for Life, Life PAC, and other anti-choice organizations. She is also one of the biggest opponents of the Affordable Care Act in the Texas Senate.
Morgan Meyer (HD-108): Received $4,000 from TMA. Has voiced support for banning abortion even in cases of rape and incest.
Lois Kolkhorst (SD-18): Received $13,000 from TMA. Endorsed by Texas Right to Life, Glenn Hegar, and other anti-choice organizations, her website flaunts her dedication to “the unborn.” (But not to women.)
Greg Abbott: Received $20,000 from TMA. He opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest.
Dan Patrick: Received $26,000 from TMA. Not only is he a vocal opponent of a woman’s right to choose, he authored the 2011 bill requiring women to get sonograms before an abortion. At the time, TMA condemned the bill as “a dangerous precedent of legislation prescribing the details of the practice of medicine.”
(Totals are for the general election, from June-December 2014.)
Meanwhile, TMA’s published list of legislative priorities includes testimony on protecting low-income women’s right to access health care, as well as a section extolling the importance of “Preserving Physicians’ Independent Medical Judgment.” If preserving physicians’ independent judgment is truly one of TMA’s priorities, it makes little sense that they’d give money to candidates who authored two anti-choice bills that TMA referred to as “dangerous precedent[s]of legislation prescribing the details of the practice of medicine.”
Given these individuals’ history and their vocal anti-choice positions, it’s likely that these legislators and other elected officials will continue their crusade against women’s right to control their own healthcare this session. There have already been anti-abortion bills filed this session, though none by any TMA endorsees yet. However, the anti-choice officials who received TMA money will almost certainly vote in favor of those bills, and may introduce more anti-choice legislation of their own.
To be fair, TMA has given some donations to Democratic legislators who have stood up to protect women’s health. However, the totals are much less than that received by anti-choice Republicans, and TMA did not give anything to the Democratic statewide candidates at the top of the ticket who were the only pro-choice option during the last election. Overall, it’s clear where most of TMA’s priorities lie.
So this session, when the Texas Medical Association speaks out against the inevitable anti-choice legislation that will emerge, remember to take their opinion with a grain of salt. After all, it’s likely that TMA is the reason the people who wrote the bill are there in the first place.