Legislative Testimony: Fetal Organ Harvesting & Sale
Written Testimony of Joe Kral, M.A.
Texas House State Affairs Committee
Re: In Support of Texas House Bill 200 (85th Texas Legislature)
March 22, 2017
My name is Joe Kral, and I am writing in favor of HB 200. Just to detail my qualifications to speak on this bill, let me begin by stating that I have a Master of Arts degree in Theology in which I specialized in morality/bioethics and I am currently completing my doctoral degree in philosophy where I am specializing in the legal and ethical theory of St. Thomas Aquinas. I served as the legislative director for Texas Right to Life from 1996-2003. Since that time I have consulted and advised several pro-life organizations with respect to legislative initiatives. Currently, I am the moderator and founder of the Society of St. Sebastian which is a group of some of the most highly regarded pro-life public policy analysts in the nation where we engage in discussions about the morality and legality of various pro-life legislative initiatives. I am also a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. Finally, I have also been extensively published in online publications such as Truth and Charity Forum and LifeNews.com where my primary writing is analyzing pro-life legislation from a moral perspective. Please note that I am not representing any of the aforementioned organizations and what is expressed in this testimony is my own personal opinion.
Firstly, it is a little disconcerting to come to the understanding that Texas Right to Life has essentially taken a non-position with respect to HB 200 and its companion bill, SB 6. When I was the legislative director for Texas Right to Life we pushed our US Congressional delegation to support the federal partial-birth abortion ban legislative initiatives that were filed and supported by National Right to Life. This would be done by visits or calls to the US Congressmen or by sending out email alerts to the grassroots urging them to contact their respective representatives. In fact, at one point Texas Right to Life had asked then-Attorney General John Cornyn to sign onto an amicus brief that other states’ attorney generals had signed onto in support of a state’s right to ban the procedure when it became obvious that the US Supreme Court was going to have oral arguments in the Nebraska Stenberg v. Carhart case. Because of those efforts, then-Attorney General Cornyn’s office informed me, as legislative director of Texas Right to Life, that he was going to file his own amicus brief in that particular case.
Let me state that I believe HB 200 is a comprehensive bill that recognizes the dignity of the unborn human child. The child while it is in the process of being born certainly has the moral right to not to be killed and it is our obligation to try to ensure such a right. Federal law certainly recognizes this particular right hence the passage of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. However, it has become evident that in some cases the federal law was simply ignored. Here in Texas, it also became apparent that one prominent abortionist violated the federal law as well. As a result, it was recommended in a letter dated December 7, 2016, by Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Chair of the Select Investigative Panel that investigates late-term abortion providers and those organizations that procure and transfer fetal tissue to the Department of Justice to prosecute this individual. To date, no prosecution has happened. This obviously raises not only a legal question of justice but a moral question of justice as well. If the federal Department of Justice refuses to act on a clear prohibition of federal law, then the states have an obligation to enact such laws as to ensure justice within their boundaries if the situation arises that the federal government is unwilling to enforce its laws.
The simple fact remains partial-birth abortion is the preferred method of killing the child in order to harvest his/her organs. An intact baby makes it easier to harvest organs. Governor Greg Abbott has made it crystal clear that he wishes to abolish this horrible practice which has taken place in this state. Since this is the preferred method it makes logical sense to prohibit the preferable procedure. Furthermore, to date, it also makes sense to pass this legislation since, as I mentioned before, the federal government may willingly decide not to pursue any cases where a partial-birth abortion has taken place in our state.
However, HB 200 is even more comprehensive than the federal law and even recognizes the child’s right not to be farmed for organs. With the recent discovery of the very disturbing practice of fetal organ harvesting here in Texas, it has become clear that something ought to be done to ensure that while these children died in an unjust manner they are at least given some dignity in death. As I argued in one of my published articles, “Some may try to argue the utilitarian view that good (i.e. medical advances) will come from the tragic case of the abortion. But that argument is problematic since it is essentially “the ends justify the means” logic. Meaning this type of logic does not pose any real limitation since one could debate the point why is this not done on “unwanted” children who are born as well? The Church is clear on how the elements of the moral act (the intention, the object, and the circumstances) must all be good in order for an action to be moral. While intentions may be noble (to save lives), and the object is towards new medical knowledge, the circumstances are highly problematic since this practice of using organs from aborted children helps to encourage the practice of abortion (abortion being a moral evil).” The reason that it encourages abortion is that the practitioners are emboldened to make more of a profit off of the deaths of the unborn and thusly, are more inclined to do more abortions. It is in this way HB 200 can help with the practice of restoring justice since it directly prohibits the barbaric practice of partially delivering a whole child in order to harvest that child’s organs. Furthermore, it outright prohibits the morally reprehensible practice of donating, purchasing and selling fetal organs regardless of the abortion procedure. Furthermore, the argument that parents may desire that the organs of their aborted unborn child’s remains is still problematic for the very similar reasons. Again, while they may intend to save lives, and the object is to further medical knowledge, the circumstances are morally problematic since it results from a direct abortion. In fact, it is akin to the wife who hired a hitman to kill her husband and then wants to donate his organs. It is clearly a conflict of interest.
In another way, partial birth abortion also perverts the act of birth itself. It is in this way that HB 200 also helps reinforce Texas’ already existing parturition statute which was not struck down by the infamous Roe v. Wade decision. Here the US Supreme Court obviously noted there was a difference between this form of infanticide and abortion. This statute is very explicit that “Whoever shall during parturition of the mother destroy the vitality or life in a child in a state of being born and before actual birth, which child would otherwise have been born alive, shall be confined in the penitentiary for life or for not less than five years.” Here the law seems to imply that mother is in the physical process of labor and birth. Whereas with partial birth abortion the mother is not undergoing the same sort of process. The cervix is artificially dilated which may take several days and the purpose is to partially deliver the child in order to kill him/her. With partial-birth abortion, birth becomes an artificial process. In addition to an artificially dilated cervix, the child is being delivered in an intentionally abnormal way. This type of birthing process is not being done naturally and it is not reaching its natural conclusion. The true purpose of birth is to welcome the child into his new world, the world outside of the womb. Partial birth abortion destroys what is supposed to be a beautiful act and event.
I do believe that HB 200 is a step in the right direction to help bring dignity to the unborn. By prohibiting one of the most barbarous acts that many have called a form of infanticide we recognize the need to be just to the unborn and to those in the process of being born regardless of gestational age. Furthermore, I also believe the HB 200 also lets society know that the unborn child is not a means to organ harvesting. Law, being the great teacher, informs our culture that partial-birth abortion is morally repugnant as a practice since it is contrary to the act of birth and even teaches us that the unjust destruction of innocent human beings itself is a wrong. Finally, it teaches our society that fetal tissues cannot be obtained through the intentional and unjust destruction of human life.
Again, thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this bill and thank you for all you do for the State of Texas.
 As of March 20, 2017 Texas Right to Life has no informational materials regarding either HB 200 or SB 6. Furthermore, Texas Right to Life did not sign in to register “for”, “against”, or “on” SB 6 during the SB 6 Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee hearing on February 15, 2017.
 See http://supreme.findlaw.com/supreme_court/briefs/99-830/99-830fo9/brief/brief01.html; retrieved March 19, 2017.
 See 18 US Code § 1531.
 See http://www.centerformedicalprogress.org/2015/07/planned-parenthoods-top-doctor-praised-by-ceo-uses-partial-birth-abortions-to-sell-baby-parts/
; retrieved on March 8, 2017.
 See http://energycommerce.house.gov/sites/republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/files/documents/114/letters/20161221DOJ%20TX%20Late-Term%20REDACTED.pdf; retrieved on March 8, 2017.
 See http://www.lifenews.com/2015/08/04/5th-shocking-video-catches-planned-parenthood-official-selling-fully-intact-aborted-babies/; retrieved March 13, 2017.
 See http://www.centerformedicalprogress.org/2015/08/intact-fetal-cadavers-at-20-weeks-just-a-matter-of-line-items-at-planned-parenthood-tx-mega-center-abortion-docs-can-make-it-happen/; retrieved on March 8, 2017.
 Kral, Joe, “The Moral Case for States to Pass Partial Birth Abortion Bans”, Truth and Charity Forum, February 6, 2017. The article may be retrieved at http://truthandcharityforum.org/the-moral-case-for-states-to-pass-partial-birth-abortion-bans/.
 See Introduced Version of HB 200, page 4, lines 16-18, and page 9, lines 20-23.
 See Texas Civil Statute § 4512.5