By Marissa Higgins | 10 April 2019
Texas state House Bill 896, introduced earlier this year, has the potential not just to criminalize abortion, but to classify it as a homicide. The abortion ban bill cleared committee on Tuesday, and is now moving forward to the Texas House of Representatives for debate. This legislation, known as the Abolition of Abortion Act, sounds like something out of The Handmaid’s Tale, but it’s no fiction. If it becomes law, the penalties could be, quite literally, deadly.
My home state of TX introduced a bill allowing capital punishment for women who have abortions. Bill sponsors claim it is necessary to make women "more personally responsible." If this isn't patriarchy's last gasp, I'm not sure what is. https://t.co/O0a2HWS628
— ilyseh (@ilyseh) April 10, 2019
Meaning? Penalties could range from a state jail term to capital punishment. Yes: the death penalty.
Of course, any penalization for seeking the legal medical procedure is inhumane. Jailing people who seek abortions is no more just or acceptable, but the death penalty takes the situation to a new level of nightmare.
Support for the death penalty on the part of people who are simultaneously against abortion is not just mind-boggling, but also frankly disturbing, misogynistic, and dehumanizing. And if you’re not horrified on behalf of the people who seek abortions, this bill raises the stakes for every single person involved in the procedure. So the physicians and nurses involved would, hypothetically, also face murder charges.
Republican state Rep. Tony Tinderholt introduced the legislation. He first introduced the bill in 2017, which is why you might have heard of him. That, or his notable five marriages. With apparently zero self-reflection, he argues that the measure is important because it will make women “more personally responsible” when it comes to sex.
He also said his goal in this legislation is to guarantee “equal protection” for “life inside the womb.” The measure suggests that an embryo—yes, an embryo—has the same rights as a human child.
“I think it’s important to remember that if a drunk driver kills a pregnant woman, they get charged twice. If you murder a pregnant woman, you get charged twice. So I’m not specifically criminalizing women. What I’m doing is equalizing the law,” said the extremely right-wing representative.
In this bill, there are no exceptions for incest, rape, or danger to the pregnant person’s life.
The measure didn’t get a hearing in 2017, and expired in the Texas House State Affairs Committee. But it’s advancing now. And while it’s pretty inarguably illegal, and a violation of the constitutional rights upheld in Roe v. Wade, it doesn’t make it any less terrifying.
Texas abortion bill seeks death penalty for women
Texas Lawmaker Tony Tinderholt Proposes Criminalizing Abortion
Texas Lawmaker: Have An Abortion, Lose Your Right To Vote
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