Mothers who abort a child will face death penalty if new Texas bill becomes law
Lawmakers in Texas are reportedly considering legislation that allows a woman who undergoes an abortion to be charged with capital murder, which is punishable by death in the state.
The House Bill 896 would reportedly remove the exception in the penal code for criminal homicide that applies to women and medical professionals and allow them to be charged with the murder of an unborn child. The legislation was introduced in the Texas House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee on Tuesday.
If the bill becomes law, it would impose a blanket ban on abortions in the state, allowing Texas to enforce the bill "regardless of any contrary federal law, executive order, or court decision," according to CNN.
The bill has been proposed despite the 1973 landmark decision reached by the US Supreme Court in Roe v Wade, which made abortions across the country legal under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
The proposed bill reads: "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."
The bill has not gone to the House floor for debate nor has it been yet passed out of committee. Reports state that the measure was initially introduced in 2017 but it did not receive a hearing then. However, Republicans currently hold a majority in both chambers of the Texas Legislature, making the possibility of the bill being passed considerably high.
According to the Dallas Morning News, the committee's chairman, Republican Rep. Jeff Leach, last week said that although he would grant a hearing for the bill, he would not permit a bill to go out of committee which "targets the woman with either civil or criminal liability."
Reports state that the committee, on Monday, heard from more than 300 witnesses on the HB 896 bill. During the hearing, at least 446 witnesses registered their approval for the controversial bill, while 54 were against it.
Democratic state Rep. Victoria Neave while commenting on the bill said that she is attempting to "reconcile" on how the bill's backers would do to a woman "the exact same thing that one is alleging that she is doing to a child," by making her eligible for the death penalty.