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“WAIIIRWM Robert L. Cook Ron E. Lewis Vilma Luna Tom Ramsay Paul Sadler Ron Wilson Eagle Lake . IVIauriceville Corpus Christi Mount Vernon Henderson Houston 17′ Not Voting: Steven D. Wolens Dallas Pete Laney Hale Center later, “but it was turned first into an abortion bill, and then it became an abortion harassment act. You can be certain that rightwing groups will pressure prosecutors who are elected to prosecute any doctor who has even possibly done an abortion on a teenager. Even if they are innocent, those doctors will have to hire lawyers, and it will be made very expensive for them to continue doing their work.” Danburg pointed out that the House Democrats most supportive of abortion rights had been kept away from the development of the legislation, with the result that the floor debate focused solely on the presumed sanctity of the parent-child relationship, with barely a mention of abortion rights or women’ s rights. “This was a negotiation between the right wing and the extreme right wing,” Danburg said. “There was no pro-choice input into the legislation, except minimally for Wolens and he says he was there primarily as a scrivener, recording the agreement.” Austin Democrat Glen Maxey said that in order to work together legislators must rely on each others’ word, but that this session that tradition has often collapsed. He cited similar broken understandings on welfare bills and other matters, and said, “[The notification agreement] is like almost every agreement that the conservative Republicans who are supporting the George Bush presidential campaign have had on this floor. All of them have gone up in smoke, or the compromises have been undone. The Governor has no leadership ability among the Republicans in this Legislature.” But with or without Bush’s leadership, the Republicans held their votes only a single Republican \(Tommy Merritt of Seven Democrats bolted to vote against the Gray proposal, which would simply have allowed a frightened, ashamed, confused, or desperate young woman to turn to some close relative she trusted if for some reason she felt she could not confide in her parents. Wolens’ absent vote was the eighth, Speaker Laney’s potentially the ninth for an eminently reasonable amendment that failed by three votes. Telford, who delivered a spirited defense of the amendment on the floor, said the Democratic votes against it “made no sense…. They knew we were going to have a bill, and why they did not take the opportunity to make the bill more humane, is a mystery to me.” \(For the complete list of Democratic deSignificantly, three of the conservative Democrats most often mentioned as potentially vulnerable on the abortion issue David Counts, Judy Hawley, and Bob Turner did not find it necessary to turn tail and run on the Gray ‘amendment. Listed among the Democratic defectors instead are Fred Bosse of Houston, Vilma Luna of Corpus Christi, Paul Sadler of Henderson, and most mysteriously of all, Ron Wilson of Houston. \(Wilson told the Observer he didn’t want to make a bad bill more passable. The next day, he lamely but perhaps predictably offered his own bypass amendment, to allow established clergy members as surrogate parents. Democratic votes could have reversed the vote as it occurred; and if joined by just Wolens and one other Member \(or if necessary, any Republican betrayal agreement or no agreement. More importantly, they could have kept young women out of the cross-hairs of the anti-abortion movement. “Members are very concerned 10 THE TEXAS OBSERVER about the 2000 elections,” Austin Democrat Elliott Naishtat said soberly in the wake of the vote. “They were paying more attention to reelection issues than to the ultimate impact of what we were doing on young pregnant girls in Texas.” It is difficult to ignore the fact that while the Dem leadership says it is protecting the Party’s House majority, it is reluctant to use that majority when it most needs to. It allowed sanctimonious appeals to “parental rights” to trump not only young women’s rights, but even the abundantly obvious circumstantial exceptions among many families all in the service of an openly right-wing agenda and the Bush presidential priorities. “For the leadership,” said Harold Dutton, “the vote was apparently based not on the merits of the bill, but out of some political consideration for conservative Democrats. But a lot of them vote like Republicans anyway, so I’m not sure what that does to the Democratic majority.” Dutton and the other opponents remain vaguely hopeful that the bill as amended will not survive a court challenge, but they also expect the emboldened abortion foes to return to the Lege in two years with renewed energy. And while they are reluctant to criticize the leadership directly, it is clear that they feel they were abandoned in this fight, even tricked into believing that the leadership was promising support it was not truly committed to deliver. Norma Chavez of El Paso described the final bill as based on a narrow, shortsighted, and ethnocentric concept of the family: “It was very backward … and it sends a very horrible message to women, and to teens.” In the immediate aftermath of the defeat, Chavez proposed what she herself described as a “crazy amendment” to require state support of any unwanted child born as a consequence of S.B. 30 and says she will refine it and bring it back to the next session. And she remains angry at the surrender of her fellow Democrats. “I don’t know why we didn’t try to continue to amend the bill, and send the Governor something he really needed to look at. Instead, we conceded, and I don’t know why.” JUNE 11, 1999