Texas lawmakers feud over 'former fetus' sign

Several state representatives spent the day fighting over a paper sign at the Texas Capitol.

It all came after Rep. Jonathan Stickland, (R) Bedford, posted a sign over his office name placard that read, "Former Fetus."

"Went and put it up and ten minutes later it was down," said Stickland.

"I took the signs off the wall, off of any office, off of any one, because it's against Preservation Board rules to stick anything on the walls in a public place," said Rep. Charlie Geren, (R) River Oaks.

Texas Right to Life staff handed out the "Former Fetus" signs to pro-life lawmakers Tuesday night. Legislators were asked to place the sign on their placard Wednesday to send a message to Planned Parenthood workers who spent Wednesday lobbying for tax dollars.

Stickland said the problem wasn't that Geren took the sign down. It was how he took it down.

"Lauren, my 18-year-old female staffer up front who answers the phones, said, 'He just threw this at me and said we can't have it up anymore.' And I said, 'He threw it?' He didn't hand it to you?' She said, 'No, he threw it," said Stickland.

Geren said that's simply not the case.

"I took the sign down and you can go look at the sign it's on the inside of his office now it's not even wrinkled and laid it on the staffers desk and said we don't put decorations on the walls," said Geren.

Stickland said he confronted Geren about his actions, but was quickly brushed off.

"Charlie, if you have a problem, why don't you come to me one-on-one? I said, 'You really upset some of my staffers.' And he said, 'I don't care, you know, they can get over it,'" said Stickland.

The sign was meant to send a message to Planned Parenthood workers who met with representatives about funding for women's health programs Wednesday. Once the sign became the focus, the political battle over funding Planned Parenthood was lost in the shuffle.

"We're sitting here talking about a sign when we should be talking about the fact that Planned Parenthood is fighting for tax dollars from people in my district to use them for things that I find despicable," said Stickland.

"No one's this mad over a little piece of paper, okay? Something else is going on and I think it's just about to get ugly in the Texas House," said Stickland.

Stickland and Geren have gone head-to-head over other issues in the past. Most recently they disagreed about Joe Straus' reelection as House speaker. Stickland felt that Straus was not conservative enough.


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