(Meredith) — For the first time in state history, this week a Texas House committee held a public hearing on a bill that would allow criminal prosecution of women for their abortions.
The bill currently makes all abortions a crime, with no exceptions. Prosecutors could even bring the charge of homicide for abortions, a crime that in Texas could carry a sentence of the death penalty.
State Rep. Tony Tinderholt, a Republican, first introduced the bill in 2017, and again this year. The bill has many legislative hurdles to clear before becoming law, but this week’s hearing marked the most progress yet by Tinderholt’s proposal.
The bill was still pending on Tuesday after Democrats decried the argument made by the bill’s supporters as contradictory.
“I’m trying to reconcile in my head the arguments that I heard tonight about how essentially one is okay with subjecting a woman to the death penalty for the exact — to do to her the exact same thing that one is alleging she is doing to a child,” Democrat state Rep. Victoria Neave said.
Tinderholt told the Texas Observer the bill is meant to “force” women to be “more personally responsible with sex.”
“Right now, it’s real easy. 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,” Tinderholt said.
Democratic state Rep. Donna Howard criticized Tinderholt’s statement telling the Observer she was “baffled” he could have such a “lack of compassion and understanding.”
The bill makes no exceptions for individual cases involving rape or incest. Tinderholt said he’s “a firm believer that God creates children in his own image, regardless of how that child is brought into the world, it’s created in his image, and how can someone want to destroy that?”
The bill is also receiving push back from abortion opponents. Republican Rep. Jeff Leach, the committee chair, said he would not support any bill on abortion that makes women civilly or criminally liable and the antiabortion group Texans for Life also expressed their opposition to the bill.