AUSTIN (KXAN) — The monuments surrounding the Texas Capitol could include one honoring the anti-abortion movement after the Senate advanced legislation this week to get that process started.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 24, introduced by Republican Sen. Tan Parker of Flower Mound, passed the chamber Tuesday by a vote of 20-10. The proposal calls for installing a replica of The National Life Monument created by Canadian sculptor Tim Schmalz, which depicts a woman with a fetus in her womb.
“A replica of the monument on the Capitol grounds would provide a communal place for Texans to celebrate the beauty of human life,” the resolution reads.
The measure does not guarantee that this monument will be placed somewhere on the north Capitol grounds, but it does direct the State Preservation Board to start looking at plans and collecting private donations.
During a phone interview with KXAN Friday, Schmalz called it “excellent news” to hear that state lawmakers are seeking to add the bronze monument he made somewhere near the Capitol. He described the design as “not visually preachy” against abortion, adding that “it’s really a positive, powerful celebration of life.”
“If I could create a sculpture that is a celebration of life, that would be great. In a sense, my hope with the piece is just a woman and child. It’s a mother and child,” Schmalz said. “Who would have a problem with a mother and child?”
The resolution must now pass the Texas House of Representatives. However, members of the House Culture, Recreation & Tourism Committee left a companion bill pending after bringing up the legislation during a hearing Thursday. It now remains unclear how much further this proposal will advance.
The resolution comes almost a year after the Supreme Court struck down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, eliminating the nearly 50-year-old constitutional right to abortion and handing states’ authority to drastically limit or ban the procedure.
Once the high court overturned Roe, Texas became one of 13 states where abortion bans automatically went into effect. The Texas trigger law prohibits all abortions except under limited circumstances, such as a “life-threatening condition to the mother caused by the pregnancy.” Abortion will be punishable by up to life in prison and at least a $100,000 fine for each offense.
Abortion opponents said the state’s trigger law works in concert with the state’s 2021 law, known as Senate Bill 8, which allows private citizens to sue providers or anyone who aids and abets abortions that occur after six weeks.
In March five Texas women filed a lawsuit claiming they were denied abortion access despite having pregnancy complications that risked their lives or the life of their baby. Their 91-page complaint said they — along with “countless” other pregnant women — were denied “necessary and potentially life-saving obstetrical care, because medical professionals throughout the state fear liability under Texas’s abortion bans.” The complaint went into great detail of the women’s experience with miscarriages and other complications.