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A Texas bill would make it possible to sentence women to death for abortions

"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."

April 11, 2019 - 8:40 am

(KFTK/AP) - If the proponents of House Bill 896 get their way, Texas women could be sentenced to death for having abortions.

The legislation, which would classify abortion as a homicide, was debated until 3 a.m. Tuesday morning by the state's House Judiciary Committee. The bill would remove an exception for women and medical professionals who carry out legal abortions that prevents them from being charged with murder of an unborn child.

Related: Alyssa Milano pushes for abortions after Georgia signs heartbeat bill into law

Representative Tony Tinderholt, who supports the bill, argued, "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."

Meanwhile, opponent Victoria Neave asked, "How essentially is one OK with subjecting a woman to the death penalty for the exact same thing that one is alleging that she is doing to a child?"

The bill has been sent to the full Texas House, where it's expected to be debated soon.

States pushing near-bans on abortion, targeting Roe v. Wade

Emboldened by the new conservative majority on the Supreme Court, anti-abortion lawmakers and activists in numerous states are pushing near-total bans on the procedure in a deliberate frontal attack on Roe v. Wade.

Mississippi and Kentucky have passed laws that would ban most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which means as early as six weeks, when many women don't even know they're pregnant. Georgia could join them if Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signs a measure that has been sent to him.

Related: Abortion Is Not Family Planning

And a bill in Ohio cleared the Republican-controlled state House on Wednesday, moving to within one step of final passage, after a spirited committee hearing where abortion rights activists shared talk of back alleys and coat hangers.

Similar bills have been filed in at least seven other states with anti-abortion GOP majorities in their legislatures.

Alabama may go further, with legislation introduced last week to criminalize abortion at any stage unless the mother's health is in jeopardy.

Other states where heartbeat bills have been filed — and in some cases advanced — include Tennessee, Missouri, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, Louisiana and West Virginia.

Associated Press writer Kim Chandler in Montgomery, Alabama, contributed to this report.

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