GOP Texas lawmaker reintroduces bill to allow death penalty for women who have abortions

A Republican state lawmaker in Texas has reintroduced a bill that would criminalize abortion without exception, making it possible for women to be convicted of homicide and sentenced to death for having the procedure.

Texas state Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R) was placed under state protection in 2017 when he first introduced the bill because of the death threats he received, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

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His bill earned its first public hearing this week, and he argued that his intention is to guarantee “equal protection” for life inside and "outside the womb.”

He has previously said that his proposal would completely remove access to abortions and “force” women to be “more personally responsible” with sex.

“Right now, it’s real easy," Tinderholt told the Texas Observer in 2017. "Right now, they don’t make it important to be personally responsible because they know that they have a backup of ‘oh, I can just go get an abortion.’ Now, we both know that consenting adults don’t always think smartly sometimes. But consenting adults need to also consider the repercussions of the sexual relationship that they’re gonna have, which is a child.” 

The Post called Tinderholt’s bill a clear violation of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

The bill would criminalize abortion and classify it as homicide, which would make it possible for a woman to receive the death penalty for having the procedure done. The legislation's language directs authorities to enforce its requirements “regardless of any contrary federal law, executive order, or court decision.”

“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,” Tinderholt said during a hearing Tuesday, according to Fox4 News.

Hundreds of people attended the two-day hearing before the Texas House’s Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence this week.

Committee members said that it was the first time in Texas history that public testimony was hearing on a measure to hold women criminally responsible for abortions.

There are 446 witnesses who registered their approval for the bill ahead of the hearing, the Post reported.  The majority of supporters represented faith groups or local Republican parties.

Fifty-four people  — including business leaders, women’s rights activists and legal experts — spoke against the bill.