AUSTIN, TX — On Tuesday, Texas State Representative Tony Tinderholt wrote a letter to State Affairs Committee Chair Byron Cook admonishing him to take responsibility for halting the abolition of abortion in Texas.
For weeks, Texas citizens have asked Cook to schedule a hearing for House Bill 948, the Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act. As Committee Chair, Cook holds the exclusive power to kill the bill or move it forward in the legislative process. He has repeatedly ignored these requests and silenced all discussion of the abolition of abortion in Texas during committee hearings. Cook has also blocked and banned many of those contacting him on social media to express their support for HB 948.
Abolitionist Rick Small sent Cook a Facebook message March 11 asking him to give the bill a hearing, and received no response. “When I tried to send him a private message on March 20 reminding him that God exists and sees, I found that he (or an admin) had me blocked,” Small said.
“Over the past month, I have sent him multiple Facebook messages which are quickly read but ignored, I’ve been hung up on and ignored when calling his office, and he has deleted every comment on his Facebook page even though they are respectful,” said abolitionist Caleb Head. “He continued to block me from his page so I can no longer interact with him. It’s very disappointing. In the end though, he can ignore our phone calls. He can ignore his party’s legislative priorities. He can even arrest us in his Committee Room. But he will never silence us.”
Cook wrote a letter to Tinderholt’s office March 22 advising Tinderholt to withdraw his request for a hearing. He claimed the Office of the Texas Attorney General had called the bill unconstitutional, though the OAG itself has made no statement either to the public or Tinderholt’s office to that effect.
“Moreover, they stated it would be extremely costly to the taxpayers of this state to attempt to address such litigation,” Cook wrote. He did not address the enormous cost of not addressing the legislation, which is currently borne by the thousands upon thousands of preborn children murdered in the state every year.
Cook then went on to release the letter to the public in The Quorum Report.
Tinderholt understood when he filed the bill that some would misrepresent it as “unconstitutional”, since many officials hold the unconstitutional idea that Supreme Court opinion is the supreme law of the land. Abolitionists who helped craft the bill, such as Liberty Hill attorney Bradley Pierce, contend that it is the most constitutional bill filed this legislative session. They argue that citizens and legislators have a duty to defy Supreme Court rulings that are repugnant to the constitution, such as Roe v. Wade.
“If you believe the constitution gives a woman a right to an abortion and you’re a Republican, you’re in the wrong party. But if you believe the constitution… instead says that the life of a child may not be taken without due process of law… that’s what this bill does,” Pierce said after a Feb. 25 rally on the bill’s behalf at the state capitol.
Tinderholt’s strongly worded response criticized Cook for deflecting responsibility for his actions onto the Attorney General.
“Representative Cook, I will not let you hide behind the Office of Attorney General on this issue. You are the Chairman of the House Committee on State Affairs. In reference to issues before your committee, you alone decide which bills get a hearing and which do not,” Tinderholt said in the letter.
In a statement to the Liberator, a representative from Tinderholt’s office said, “Our letter was sent to make it clear that we recognize his absolute authority to allow this bill to be heard or not. Currently many unborn children’s constitutional rights are not being protected in Texas and we want to change that.”
Tinderholt also chastised Cook for his repeated resistance to efforts to protect the preborn. The Abolition of Abortion Act is diametrically opposed to pro-life measures that define the circumstances under which children may be killed but fail to treat abortion itself as murder. Abolitionists frequently press for more consistent legislation and oppose regulatory measures which they believe are compromising and counter productive. Cook, who was elected on a pro-life platform, has opposed many of these same measures, not because he views them as compromising, but because he actively seeks to add even more exceptions to them.
“I know we disagree on this issue, as you have taken positions that have affirmed your belief that there are unborn children who should be able to be aborted in our state,” Tinderholt said.
The entire text of Tinderholt’s letter is below:
Dear Representative Cook,
Thank you for the letter expressing your concerns on HB 948. We have had several conversations regarding this bill in the past few weeks.
Let me first say that all human life is precious and should be protected under state and federal law. I have voted for every pro-life bill that has come before the Texas House since my time in the legislature. I know we disagree on this issue, as you have taken positions that have affirmed your belief that there are unborn children who should be able to be aborted in our state.
Representative Cook, we are the Texas Legislature. We determine what laws are best to protect our citizens. Perhaps you and I have a difference of opinion on whether or not Roe v. Wade should be the law of the land. Perhaps that is the more serious difference of opinion we face.
Representative Cook, I will not let you hide behind the Office of Attorney General on this issue. You are the Chairman of the House Committee on State Affairs. In reference to issues before your committee, you alone decide which bills get a hearing and which do not.
Thank you for coming to me with your concern.
State Representative, HD 94