Texas Abortion Bill Could Put Women, Physicians On Death Row

A bill under consideration by Texas lawmakers would ban abortion across the state and charge any woman who has one  - and the physician who performed it - with homicide, according to NBC NewsThe charge can carry the death penalty in the state. 

Introduced by Republican Rep. Tony Tinderholt - an Air Force veteran who was placed under state protection over death threats - the "Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act" (H.B. 896) is necessary to make women "more personally responsible," according to Tinderholt. 

The Texas lawmaker introduced a similar bill in 2017, however it failed to leave committee. 

During Monday and Tuesday committee hearings on the bill, around 500 people testified in favor of it - of which 54 were against the bill, according to the Washington Post

"A living human child, from the moment of fertilization on fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum, is entitled to the same rights, powers, and privileges as are secured or granted by the laws of this state to any other human child," reads the text of the bill. 

Texas Rep. Matt Krause (R) who sits on the Texas Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurispurdence which heard the bill noted on Facebook that it was "the first legislative hearing since 1973 on this topic." 

Democrats on the committee blasted the bill. 

"I’m trying to reconcile in my head the arguments that I heard tonight about how essentially one is OK with subjecting a woman to the death penalty ... to do to her the exact same thing that one is alleging she is doing to a child," said Democratic Rep. Victoria Neave during the hearing, according to the Washington Post

The emotional showdown in Texas came amid a broader effort, in states where Republicans enjoy legislative control, to impose sweeping new restrictions on abortion rights. From Georgia to Ohio, from Florida to West Virginia, about a dozen states have moved on legislation banning abortion once a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat.

Some states are intent on taking additional steps. Last week, legislation was introduced in Alabama that would criminalize performing an abortion at any stage, with the only exception being a threat to the mother’s life. The effort is aimed squarely at Roe v. Wade. -WaPo

According to the Post, the fact that the Texas bill is "a clear violation of the 1973 landmark decision" is kind of the point - as the bill instructs state authorities to enforce its requirements "regardless of any contrary federal law, executive order, or court decision."

According to Bim Baxa, president of West Texans for Life, "Roe v. Wade is unconstitutional," who added "And the 10th Amendment puts it to you all to stand up to that tyranny and do what’s right."

Baxa said supporting the bill was his organization's "number one priority" as it's the first and only to classify abortion as a capital felony. 

"A woman who has committed murder should be charged with murder," said Baxa. 

Houston pastor Stephen Bratton echoed Baxa's sentiment, saying "Whoever authorizes or commits murder is guilty."

Faith wasn’t the only justification offered for the bill. “We are literally missing billions of dollars in taxpayer money,” one woman said, suggesting that preventing abortion would increase the state’s population, meaning more people contributing to public coffers. -WaPo

The measure's 54 opponents included legal experts, women's rights activists and business leaders. 

"Murdering your citizens for a medical procedure is pretty extreme to me," said tech CEO Caroline Caselli, founder of affordable housing resource Haven Connect. Caselli, a recent transplant from California, says she fears for her female employees. 

ACLU Texas strategist Drucilla Tigner noted that the legislation was unconstitutional and would be invalidated, according to the Post, while Jasmine Wong - legislative and legal intern with abortion rights organization NARAL said that the hearing was a "waste of time."