Warm Fuzzies: Merry Christmas from the ACLU of Texas
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is known more for keeping “Christ” out of Christmas in the courtrooms and in the press than sending warm holiday fuzzies via Facebook. But that’s exactly what ACLU of Texas Executive Director Terri Burke tried to do with this video. We’re all allowed to share in the Christmas spirit, right?

Let’s take a look at some of the more contradictory, err…interesting clips from the 3:08 greeting. (Sorry, you have to be logged into Facebook to see the video.)

Terri Burke:

“That might seem a little odd, even ironic, that the executive director of the ACLU of Texas is wishing you a Merry Christmas. That’s maybe because there seem to be a lot of mis-statements, a lot of myths about what we believe here at the ACLU about Christmas…

“…We’re looking forward to a new year where we hope Santa would have granted us our holiday wishes. First and foremost, we hope that all Americans will be able to practice their religion and worship as they please. We hope for a Texas where all Texans have educational opportunities, and most of all, we hope for a nation that adheres to and respects the most basic and fundamental of American values.”

1. Hmm, what exactly are those basic, fundamental values? The right to life? Um, no.

Not exactly, considering the ACLU of Texas put their support behind a bill that would make it easier to justify killing an infant during the spring 2009 state session. The bill (HB 3318) never got out of the House Committee, no thanks to the ACLU.

Session documents show that an ACLU Texas representative registered the organization as “For” the bill on April 14, 2009. Those who signed in as “Against” the bill were Citizens Commission on Human Rights, Texans for Family Values PAC, Parent Guidance Center and the Free Market Foundation.

2. Terri Burke is right about one thing. It IS odd that the ACLU is sending out this message about being able to worship as you please. Elsewhere in the country, the ACLU fought to ban a cross displayed on a water tower in Pennsylvania (a town tradition) but protected cross-burning in Virginia.

We could go on, but it doesn’t take much to show that they’re on the naughty list this year.

Anonymous Christina said...
Looking at the text and analysis of HB 3318 on the State Legislature's website, it looks to me like the law does not "decriminalize" infanticide, but creates room for leniency during the penalty phase of a trial, if the defendant proves that the murder of her infant is the result of postpartum psychosis. Nowhere does it absolve her of any criminal responsibility.

From the State's website:

"C.S.H.B. 3318 removes a provision from the original creating the state jail felony offense of infanticide, and instead authorizes a defendant, at the punishment stage of a trial in which the defendant has been found guilty of murder for causing the death of a child to whom the defendant gave birth within the 12-month period preceding the child's death, to raise the issue as to whether the defendant caused the child's death because the defendant's judgment was impaired as a result of the effects of giving birth or the effects of lactation following birth, and makes such a murder a state jail felony if the defendant proves the issue in the affirmative by a preponderance of the evidence. The substitute removes a provision from the original including infanticide among the offenses that are classified as criminal homicide. The substitute differs from the original in the savings provision by making its provisions applicable to a trial that commences, rather than an offense committed, on or after the effective date of the bill."

I'm no fan of the ACLU, but please, let's be clear in our language when we criticize their antics. Our opponents already love to paint us as dishonest.

Blogger Marisa Alvarado said...
Hi Christine,
Thanks for checking up on this. I looked at the language of the bill again, and then more supporting evidence from others who were opposed to this bill, to make a clearer distinction from what the text of the bill says versus what it would actually do.

I updated the blog post to read “make it easier to justify killing an infant” instead of “decriminalize murdering an infant.”

I didn’t elaborate on the bill in this post because it was more about the irony of the ACLU’s Christmas greeting video than the bill itself, but here’s some more about HB 3318 in case you or anyone else is interested.

You’re right. We have to watch ourselves carefully. Keep letting us know what you’re thinking!

Thanks again,

From the article “Protecting women or promoting infanticide?”

“Even some supporters of the legislation are questioning the lengths it goes to. Rep. Debbie Riddile (R-Tomball) was an original co-sponsor of the bill and voted for it in committee has now pulled her support from the legislation.

A spokesman for Riddle said that she shared Farrar’s concern about women who suffer from postpartum psychosis, but said that the solution was too extreme. Riddle believes the bill is insufficient in distinguishing between true cases of medically-induced psychosis and women who simply murder in cold blood.

Rep. Wayne Christian (R-Center) is a member of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee and opposed the bill. He’s also chairman of the Texas Conservative Coalition and said he will fight it if it gets to the House floor.

"I share in the heartbreak of the mothers and families who fall victim to postpartum depression; however, I do not believe HB 3318 is the answer to addressing this disorder,” he said. “I believe this bill does not protect the victims, including mothers, of postpartum depression; rather it promotes a devaluation of human life which is unacceptable.”

“By lessening a penalty for the murder of a child, the legislature would be sending a message that homicide is justified, Christian added. He pointed out that the Texas penal code already allows leniency in determining punishment for those who suffer from insanity.

Farrar calls that insufficient and says that postpartum psychosis is an important psychological disorder that needs to be addressed. Christian in turn, said the problem should be addressed before a death occurs, not afterwards.”

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