House Bill 896, or the Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act, seeks to make abortion a crime. This legislation, created by State Representative and Republican, Tony Tinderholt, entails that women who have an abortion could be charged with homicide and sentenced to death penalty. The law would not make any exceptions — not even for cases of rape.
On Monday, April 8th, hundreds of people testified in front of the Texas House Judiciary Committee. It was an emotional event, with arguments being made in the name of God, in the name of unborn children, in the name of women, and even in the name of tax payers. Committee members confess it is the first time in state history that someone has tried to criminalise abortions.
Tinderholt argues that exempting mothers from these charges would be to 'inherently treat unborn children differently than other people who are murdered', and the President of West Texans for Life, Jim Baxa, said 'a woman who has committed murder should be charged with murder'.
Other state representatives are having a hard time understanding the contradictions in the so-called “pro-life” bill. Democrat Representative, Victoria Neave contributed, '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'. Her outcry against hypocrisy was not the only one.
The hearing ended at 3 a.m. the next day, and the following Wednesday, state Rep Jeff Leach, chair of the House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence, announced on Twitter that Bill 896 would not be advanced from his committee because it 'moves our state and the pro-life cause in the wrong direction'.
As such, it is very unlikely that the bill will pass, but is it only a matter of time? According to the Washington Post, other U.S. states, such as Georgia and Florida, have moved to ban abortion as soon as the doctor can detect a heartbeat. Abortion is not a decision that should be taken lightly — so, would passing a law like this give women enough time to think about the right choice for them?
Aside from the moral debate, prohibiting abortion does not mean it will cease completely, and it is possible that ratifying radical laws against abortion will only increase the amount of clandestine abortions that take place. According to The Atlantic, abortion rates in countries where it is legal are similar to those of countries where abortion is illegal. The situation is shaping into a double-edged sword. A woman could die in the hands of an untrained practitioner or in the hands of the law, but in both scenarios, a woman dies. We cannot allow this.
Edited by Evangeline Stanford, Digital Editor