Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) filed Senate Bill (SB) 1040 to prohibit health insurance companies from covering organ transplant procedures in which the organs come from, or the operation occurs in, a country that is known to engage in forced organ harvesting — namely China.
Several lawmakers were present during the conference, including Sen. Angela Paxton (R-McKinney) and Rep. Tom Oliverson (R-Cypress).
Oliverson is carrying identical legislation in the House.
The lawmakers were accompanied by several witnesses who spoke using a translator, describing their traumatic experiences in China of witnessing the forced organ harvesting operation firsthand while imprisoned.
Witness Crystal Chen, a member of the Falun Gong religious movement, said that she and her fellow Falun Gong practitioners are viewed by the Chinese government as a “commodity” for organ harvesting, which she claimed was due to their healthy lifestyles. She added she was sentenced to several years in prison, and during that time was tortured and had her blood drawn as part of the testing process to identify potential forced organ donors. Another female witness claimed she had been forcibly sterilized by the government.
“While we wait for the federal government to take action to stop this practice, the State of Texas will not wait and is taking action through SB 1040 to stop it,” Oliverson said in support of the legislation.
According to the legislative background on the bill, the Texas Legislature passed a resolution last session condemning the practice of involuntary organ harvesting. The report also notes that China performs some 60,000 to 90,000 transplant tourism operations annually, and the advanced scheduling of these operations suggests they are fully aware of the “heinous” origin of the donor organs.
Kolkhorst’s legislation was recently approved by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and will now head to the full Senate for consideration.
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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.