Thank you Carol [Tobias]. I'm blessed to have you all here in Texas today, men and women who value human life, standing united to protect our nation's most vulnerable citizens...the unborn.
With us today are several of our Texas heroes in this fight, Elizabeth Graham, Kyleen Wright, and Carol Everett.
I'm particularly glad to have you all here this week, of all weeks, as we witnessed the extremes the pro-abortion forces will resort to in order to further their cause. They demonstrated that, even if they lose at the ballot box, even if they come up short in attempts to stall on the Senate floor, they will resort to mob tactics to force their minority agenda on the people of Texas.
I'm all about honest, open debate, and parliamentary tactics are certainly nothing new, but what we witnessed Tuesday was nothing more than the hijacking of the democratic process.
This is simply too important a cause to allow the unruly actions of a few to stand in its way.
I have announced that I am bringing lawmakers back to Austin to finish the work and the will of the people of the state of Texas, and I've put pro-life measures at the top of the call list.
In the four decades since Roe v. Wade, more than 50 million children have lost their chance at life.
Even in Texas, where the unborn are already more protected than in most places, nearly 80,000 unborn children are lost to abortion each year. Every time I hear that statistic, it breaks my heart; nearly 80,000 lives lost before taking their first breath.
Some have tried to make this a partisan issue. It's not. This is a human rights issue.
Faced with this scar on our national conscience, in Texas we have pursued policies to protect unborn children. Over the past 10 years we've passed laws requiring both parental notification and parental consent to their minor daughter's abortion, ensuring parents will be involved, ready to provide much-needed guidance and advice at the most critical of moments.
We've funded and promoted alternatives to abortion, providing counseling for women on the other options--options that won't stop their child's beating heart. In 2011, we passed a law requiring any mother considering an abortion to have a sonogram first, because children deserve the respect of simple recognition before their lives are tragically cut short.
The laws we will pass in the coming weeks will build on that legacy of life.
We will ban abortion after 20 weeks, which makes sense considering the growing number of healthy, happy children who were born prematurely at the same early gestation that our laws allow abortion. In fact, one of the laws we passed during the regular session improved the quality of Neonatal Intensive Care Units throughout Texas, treating children not much older than 20 weeks.
It makes zero sense that the second most-common surgical procedure in the United States is done at clinics that are not held to the same standards as other surgical facilities.
They say that adopting these laws will lead to the closure of most abortion clinics in Texas. But the majority of Texas lawmakers agree that any patient should have the expectation that facilities being used for a procedure are up to standard, sand that, when there's an emergency situation, they can receive the care they need.
If the abortion industry decides that the expense of running clean, safe facilities outweighs the money they can make...that's entirely their decision.
We've seen far too many horror stories, coming out of Philadelphia and even Houston, about unsafe, unsanitary abortion mills that turn a profit by preying on women in desperate circumstances and the gruesome nature of the lives lost there, mothers and children alike.
It's important to remember that, as a state, while we are under an obligation to protect the health and safety of the people who live here, we are under no obligation to make things easier for abortion providers.
The ideal world, of course, is a world without abortion.
Until then, however, devoted Texans across our state - from Dallas, to San Antonio, and all points elsewhere - are forming organizations and founding life centers to give women, and the children they carry, a chance at a new life.
They help women who might think there's no other way out see that there are options...better options...than stopping the beating heart of their child.
Already, these individuals and their organizations have made a huge difference in lives throughout Texas, and helping families realize God's greatest gift: The love of a child.
In the course of my travels and conversations with folks in Texas and beyond, I can't tell you how many people I meet who are dealing with the heartbreak of infertility and the frustration of the unfulfilled desire to be parents.
That is why we must work harder to connect those couples who so deeply desire children with those mothers for whom the prospect of parenthood is too much to bear.
This is what we mean when we talk about a "culture of life" ... in Texas and throughout our country.
Yes, many children are born into difficult circumstances, but there is no such thing as an unwanted child, because no life is trivial in God's eyes.
Who are we to say that children born into the worst of circumstances can't grow to live successful lives?
In fact, even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances, the daughter of a single mother and a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas Senate.
It's just unfortunate that she hasn't learned from her own example: that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential; that every life is precious.
Our founding fathers knew this. That's why they affirmed the right to life in the Declaration of Independence, listing it first, ahead of liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As our forefathers correctly understood, life is nothing less than a gift from God, and defending that right is a calling worthy of our best. That's why we work so hard to protect all of God's children. There is no higher calling, or more basic standard than that.
I wish I could say we were nearing the end of our struggle, but the events of the last few days only underscore that we face continued challenges. I am proud of each one of you for standing up for life. In doing so, you reap the scorn of the abortion lobby, and the disdain of the forces of secularism. But it is a just cause...an important calling. And it's the least we could do in memory of the 50 million who have been robbed of their lives.
Over the past few days, the world has seen images of the Texas Capitol, filled with pro-abortion activists screaming, cheering, and drowning out our elected officials.
Going forward, we have to match their intensity, but with the grace and dignity of the very cause we champion. We need to voice our opinions and stand for what we believe without compromising our values, or our basic goodness.
And just remember: the louder the opposition screams, the more we know we're doing something right.
Until the day Roe v. Wade is nothing but a shameful footnote in our nation's history books, we won't give up the good fight.
May God bless you and, through you, may He continue to bless this nation we love so much.