88th LegislatureHealthcareState HouseState SenateDan Patrick Says Abortion Law Exceptions Unlikely This Legislative Session

In a television interview, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick signaled no interest in revisiting the state’s strict abortion ban.
January 16, 2023
In the wake of the Dobbs decision last year, attention has turned to whether Texas’ abortion laws are too broad — whether there should be exceptions for instances of rape and incest added to the lone existing exception that allows abortion for protecting the mother against substantial harm.

But the possibility of the issue being reexamined this session is quickly fading in light of recent remarks from key legislative leaders, the latest being Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

In an interview with WFAA’s Jason Whitely, Patrick said he hears and respects the opinion of those calling for exceptions in rape and incest cases to be added to the law, but that his personal pro-life beliefs didn’t agree with making those exceptions.

Patrick said that a child that has been conceived in those circumstances “should not be another victim of that crime and that life be taken.”

He also added that outside one lawmaker, Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville), who has indicated support for adding a rape exception, there hasn’t been much support for the issue.

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“No one else has made a statement on it; I haven’t heard anything from the governor, the speaker, or any House members. There may be some,” Patrick said, adding that while he doesn’t know if the issue will come forward this session, he doesn’t see it happening at the moment.

These remarks are not the only recent signals indicating the Legislature has no appetite to revisit abortion laws this session.

House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) also threw water on the issue when he defended pro-life lawmakers and the recently passed Human Life Protection Act in a rebuttal to former President Donald Trump.

Trump recently issued a statement blaming midterm election losses on Republicans who supposedly handled the abortion issue poorly, “especially those that firmly insisted on No Exceptions, even in the case of Rape, Incest, or Life of the Mother.”

“It was your hand picked candidates who underperformed & lost ‘bigly’,” Phelan retorted. “May 2023-24 bring the GOP new leadership PROUD to protect the unborn.”

The Legislature cannot vote on non-priority bills until March 10, 60 days after the session began.


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Matt Stringer

Matt Stringer is a reporter for The Texan who writes about all things government, politics, and public policy. He graduated from Odessa College with an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies and a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Leadership. In his free time, you will find him in the great outdoors, usually in the Davis Mountains and Big Bend region of Southwest Texas.