A Texas House bill that would have allowed the criminal prosecution of women and doctors for abortions failed to make it past a committee hearing this week.
Texas House Bill 896 called for state prosecutors to bring either assault or homicide charges against women who received abortions or physicians who carried out abortions through medical procedures or prescription medication. Homicide is a capital crime in the state of Texas, meaning the bill opened up the possibility of women and physicians receiving the death penalty for abortions.
The language of the proposed legislation failed to mention any exceptions for cases of rape, incest or pregnancies that posed health risks for mothers. The bill stated that from the time of conception, unborn children would be protected by Texas state law “regardless of any contrary federal law, executive order, or court decision.”
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The committee’s Republican chairman, Jeff Leach, who is also an avid pro-life supporter, announced Wednesday that he would not move the bill for consideration by the whole House because criminally prosecuting women who receive abortions would only distract from the pro-life cause.
“I cannot in good conscience support House Bill 896 – legislation that subjects women who undergo abortions to criminal liability and even the possibility of the death penalty,” Leach said in a statement posted to Twitter. “Trusted pro-life legislators and advocates agree with me that this bill moves our state and the pro-life cause in the wrong direction.”