5 Mistakes Pro-Lifers Made on SB5 & How To Win Next Time

Now that Governor Perry has called a second special session we have another chance to pass some of the most comprehensive protections for the unborn in recent memory. We should have been able to pass SB5 in the last special session, but we blew it. Big time.

Here are the mistakes we made and what we need to do to succeed next go-around.

perry gets special elgislative session

Mistake #1: We Failed to Work Together

Most people don’t know this, but there is a huge pro-life civil war waging in Texas. Several big pro-life groups refuse to talk to each other, much less work together.

The problem is that our pro-life legislators are stuck between two warring factions. When there are two conductors, the music is chaotic.

The problem is a spiritual one and the only answer is prayer. If you donate to either organization, you should let them know you want them working together.

How to Win

Mistake #2: We Had no Grassroots Leadership

special session is coming

When I got the word that Sunday would be the big push in the Texas Legislature, I went by myself to the Texas Capitol. I brought a roll of LifeTape and a marker. It turns out I was one of the only people there trying to organize any sort of grassroots effort.

The result was that my sister Cynthia (who came later) and I made the Texas Tribune, Fort Worth Star Telegram, San Angelo Times, YNN and CNN.

What we have in the pro-life movement is Privates and Generals and very few Sergeants.  The grassroots activists are ready to jump in the trenches, they just need leaders (Sergeants) in the trenches with them. No amount of Generals in the command tent make up for Sergeants in the trenches.

So, I have restarted Austin Bound4LIfe.

How to Win

We need more leaders who are willing to spend their time organizing pro-life grassroots efforts. This means making t-shirts, buttons and signs. It means bussing in activists from places like Fort Worth & San Antonio.

All you need is a $7 roll of LifeTape, a $5 field guide, a $2 chisel tip marker and some free time.

If you are a grassroots leader, make sure to follow the Texas Alliance for Life for information on when and where we need people to show up. We need to be ready at a moment’s notice.

Mistake #3: We Failed to Pass the Same Version of the Bill in Both Houses


This is the most obvious mistake so I won’t dwell much on it. The bill that came out of the House was great and included the fetal pain amendment, which is nice to have even though it will likely be overturned by the courts. I’m not afraid of a court battle, however. The problem is that the Senate passed the bill without the fetal pain provision.

Because the bills did not match, it had to go back to the Senate where the Democrats killed it with a filibuster and a riot.

How to Win

Someone *cough*Perry*cough* needs to put the House and Senate pro-life leaders in a room and not let them out till they have the same version of the bill.

Mistake #4: We Didn’t Use Enough Life Tape


LifeTape is catnip for journalists. They were taking photos of us the whole time. Nothing makes a journalist want to interview you more than putting tape over your mouth.

I was shocked by how many people had never seen LifeTape on someone before. Bound4Life has been doing this around the country for years. It is time we brought this powerful tool to Texas.

The wonderful thing about LifeTape is that the  louder and angrier the pro-abortion protesters get, the more powerful the tape becomes. One protester looked at us and started crying. LifeTape works where words fail.

How to Win

Wear LifeTape! Pray in silence and stand for those who cannot speak for themselves. Find someone who is passing it out and ask for some. Or better yet, bring your own.

Mistake #5: We Failed to Explain the Bill

explain scientific facts

Most Texans have no idea what SB5 did. They think the bill would arbitrarily shut down abortion clinics.

Not true.

The bill held abortion clinics to the same health and safety standards that we hold other surgical centers to. Surgical abortions should be treated like other forms of surgery.  There is no reason why abortion centers should be held to a less safe standard. Who could be against this? These clinics could upgrade their facilities, but are too focused on making money.

How to Win

Keep to the following simple messaging:

  • Abortion Hurts Women
  • Abortion Hurts Babies
  • #Stand4Life
  • Texas Women Deserve Better Than Gosnell

The voters of Texas have spoken overwhelmingly that they want this bill. The House wants the bill. The Senate wants the bill. With enough prayer and hard work, there is no reason for us not to pass a pro-life bill worthy of the Great State of Texas.

Please share this post on Facebook and join me in praying for unity in the pro-life movement.

Thomas Umstattd Jr. is the author of Courtship in Crisis, the former head of PracticalCourtship.com, and co-founder of the Austin Rhetoric Club, a homeschool speech and debate club in Austin, Texas. He is a professional speaker and CEO of Author Media. He sits on the board of directors for several nonprofits, including the Texas Alliance for Life.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

14 thoughts on “5 Mistakes Pro-Lifers Made on SB5 & How To Win Next Time

  1. Gallup:
    80% want abortion outlawed after the first 6 months.

    IMO, outside of progressive activists and their followers, abortion is VERY unpopular.
    To avoid future remorse and guilt, consider adoption services.
    Better yet, cherish, nourish, and protect your baby.

  2. You need to dig deeper and find out why the pro-life groups are separated. If your really fighting for life, then fight! Don’t take someone even your best friends word.

  3. Thomas,
    I would love to connect with you – if you could email me so we could talk more about the Bound4LIFE Austin chapter that would be great. Thank you!

    • Catherine, while I can understand a state issue should stay a state issue, why then does Cecile Richards come in for support of SB5, when she is from New York state? Sure it affects her business, and she has Texas roots with her mother, but this is still a state issue, right? As well, explain the numerous people I met at the rallies at the state Capitol who admitted being from out of state.

      The fact is, with the internet, there is no such thing as a “local” issue anymore. We are all connected to each other in more ways than ever in the history of humanity. To say it has no place in Thoma’s argument makes no sense at all. We constantly quote other people’s opinions and share in their experiences from all over the world. It makes us better educated and stronger!

      Besides, you should go re-read your article. It clearly states Tom Ridge is a pro-CHOICE Republican. Yes, there are pro-choice Republicans, and there are pro-life democrats. Just as not all pro-lifers are Christian. Some are agnostic, even atheist. Governor Rendell, a democrat, was “flabbergasted” and ordered more scrutiny over abortion clinics, because they were less scrutinized than nail salons. Good for him. I have no problem congratulating an “evil” democrat or liberal when they do the right thing. We are all human after all. This might be true in Texas as well with the lack of oversight, one of the main goals of now HB2 is to fix.

      I’ll leave with this…those that do not learn from history (Or other people’s mistakes) are doomed to repeat them. We don’t need another Gosnell story ANYWHERE in this world.

    • 1. Using Gosnell in your reasoning for all clinics being unsafe is akin to saying all Toyotas are unsafe because of a single recall. Pro-Choice women will argue that the clinics are inspected more often than surgi-centers.
      2. Arguing that you are supporting women’s health is a very sore spot, given that our state is doing everything it can to take away Medicaid, and is refusing to support Universal Health care.
      3. Saying that adoption is such a great option, yet not supporting the woman during the pregnancy with optimal healthcare, financial support, nor helping her deal with that social stigma is unfair. We should be changing laws to allow affordable and expedited adoptions. However, racism will still be an issue for those adopting, or refusing to adopt, minority babies.
      4. Terminating a pregnancy is safer than childbirth, and death is extremely rare. The facts and statistics are in medical journals.
      5. Aside all of those, calling women murderers, baby killers, and selfish libtards is insulting to women who do not view this as such.
      6. Quoting the Bible or spewing religious doctrine angers even the religious. There are scriptures that support life not beginning until a breath is taken.
      7. Don’t argue that all the clinics do, including PP, is abort is extremely inaccurate. They provide many women’s services that help prevent conception, and are striving to keep women safe with wellness services.
      8. You cannot be against abortion and birth control. Saying that a woman should just “keep her legs together” as is posted often, is not realistic, and is extremely insulting.
      9. Taking one soundbite – ‘hail satan’ – and claiming that what one person said speaks for all, is outrageous.
      10. You’ve already convinced your groups of your stance. Don’t use insults, hatespeak, deragatory remarks, threats, etc. They won’t convince the pro-choice enthusiasts, and are causing the undecided to side against you.
      11. Don’t break rules during hearings. It is the talk of social media that in registering to speak, the pro-life people were at the capital going through their address books to register people who were not physically there to do so. The rules of the hearing room, to be silent and respectful of all speakers, was broken very often by the pro-life attendees, with comments and talking when the pro-choice members spoke.
      12. Gov. Perry’s sister will gain financially by closing the clinics. Find out what the opposing team knows, and try to rectify the situations prior to speaking out.
      13. Churches getting into the polital arena is detracting from this.
      14. Know the percentages. Terminating a pregnancy after 20 weeks amounts for 1.5% of abortions, with almost all of those being from critical issues found during the ultrasound. Those are the people who planned to carry full term. The highest percentage are performed prior to 8 weeks.
      15. Take the time to actually listen. Arguing a losing battle is inefficient.

  4. Please do not store, forward, or use my email address for solicitations, fundraising, etc. Your analysis, my dear friend, is not really at the heart
    of the divisions between the pro-life organizations and it’s off the mark.
    May I help you…. life tape?
    1. Lt. Gov. Dewhurst lost control of the chamber before midnight. He and Sen. Duncan get an attaboy for ruling on the three points of order shutting down the filibuster then, they both blew it by not clearing the gallery.
    2. Ineptitude at controlling the silly and inane “parliamentary inquiries” by the Democrats timed to run out the clock.
    3. Reconciling the House and Senate bills is a normal course of passing a legislative bill. I would grant you that the House took too long to get the amended bill back to the Senate for a final vote and you can blame Joe Straus for that. Many of us pro-lifers do not trust this man as the Speaker.

    thanks for considering my opinion. I stayed up until 1am watching the chaos in the Senate chambers. the final outcome should never have happened if an experienced president was on hand to maintain order and get the business of the Senate done.

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