Texas lawmakers held a hearing this week on a bill that could subject women to the death penalty if they had an abortion. Period, point blank, no exceptions.
The legislator behind the bill is Texas state Rep. Tony Tinderholt, a five-times-married Republican out of Arlington who had to be placed under police protection when he first introduced the bill two years ago due to death threats, the Washington Post reports.
“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,” Tinderholt said, according to FOX 5, as reported by USA Today. “What I’m doing is equalizing the law.”
Under Tinderholt’s bill, abortion would be made a crime without exception, and both women who had abortions and the doctors who performed them could be charged with murder, which is punishable by death in Texas.
Observers say the bill has little chance of passing, with even a top Texas Republican charged with deciding which bills get put up for a vote, saying the legislation would not move forward.
“I am pro-life, through and through. No one can question my credentials on this issue and my commitment to this important cause,” Rep. Jeff Leach said, according to the Dallas Morning News. “That said, I do not believe that convicting a woman who has an abortion of murder and possibly subjecting her to the death penalty is constitutional, nor does such a policy advance the cause of life in Texas.”
However, the hearings on the bill come amid a wave of new laws putting further restrictions on abortions in at least a dozen, mostly Republican-controlled states. The White House on Friday is even planning a screening of a controversial anti-abortion film.
And naysayers’ position on the Tinderholt bill didn’t deter hundreds of people from showing up to the state capital Monday into Tuesday to testify in support.
“Roe v. Wade is unconstitutional,” said Jim Baxa, president of West Texans for Life, calling the Tinderholt bill, according to the Post, “the first to treat abortion fully as a capital felony, giving those who claim to ‘believe abortion is murder’ a chance to ‘prove that.’”
“Whoever authorizes or commits murder is guilty,” said Stephen Bratton, a pastor from Houston.
Speaking for the opposing point of view were some 60 people, including a technology CEO who recently moved to Texas to California.
“Murdering your citizens for a medical procedure is pretty extreme to me,” said Caroline Caselli, who said she feared for her female employees.