So, here we are. Welcome to the U.S. in 2019, where putting women to death for exercising reproductive control over their bodies is actually being discussed by our lawmakers.
The bill in question, concocted by Rep. Tony Tinderholt, a Republican from Arlington, Texas, would criminalize abortion without exception (victims of rape and incest do not matter to Tinderholt), meaning that they would face charges of homicide. In Texas, those convicted of homicide can face the death penalty.
This isn’t the first time Tinderholt has attempted to bring this legislation to the House floor. He first introduced the bill in 2017, claiming, per the Texas Observer, that it would make women be “more personally responsible” in their sex lives. And that’s coming from a guy who’s been married five times. The fact that Tinderholt’s legislation was discussed in a hearing before the Texas House’s Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence on Monday and Tuesday shows our alarming shift towards far-right politics as of late, considering it didn’t get this far two years ago.
Sonya Gonnella, one of those who testified in support of Tinderholt’s bill, quoted Genesis, stating (per The Washington Post), “God’s word says, ‘He who sheds man’s blood, by man—the civil government—his blood will be shed.’” Gonnella is a self-proclaimed “follower of the lord Jesus Christ,” a pretty well-known dude who preached on forgiveness and turning the other cheek.
Jim Baxa, president of West Texans for Life, declared, “A woman who has committed murder should be charged with murder.”
One supporter gave an even stranger reasoning for the bill, citing economic losses from aborted fetuses: “We are literally missing billions of dollars in taxpayer money.”
Thankfully, this bill faces enough obstacles that it is not likely to see the light of day, and it was still pending as of Tuesday. It’s not even necessarily that popular with all anti-choicers, as some of them are women who regret their decision to have an abortion. Democrats on the committee noted that those supporters calling themselves “pro-life” were reaching a new level of hypocrisy.
“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,” reflected Rep. Victoria Neave, a Democrat, per WaPo.
Isaac Stanley-Becker of WaPo explains that Texas is just one of many states promoting a far-right, anti-choice agenda. Beyond heartbeat bills, Alabama lawmakers are assessing recently introduced legislation that would criminalize abortion, except when women’s lives are in danger. The Lone Star state is going one step further, clearly trying to bring Roe v. Wade back before the courts, as Stanley-Becker notes:
That the Texas bill, which goes even further, is a clear violation of the 1973 landmark decision appears to be precisely the point for those who asked lawmakers to advance it out of committee. The measure directs authorities to enforce its requirements “regardless of any contrary federal law, executive order, or court decision.” In testimony, proponents hailed President Trump as a champion of the “unborn” and beseeched state lawmakers to do their part in giving him a “chance” to help advance their agenda before a Supreme Court whose makeup he has shifted to the right.