A Texas house committee heard testimony this week on a bill that would allow women who have abortions to be convicted of homicide and executed. The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Tony Tinderholt, told the Texas Observer when he introduced the bill in 2017 that it would make women “more personally responsible” about having sex.
This horrifying news reminds us that when Donald Trump was a presidential candidate, he said in response to a reporter’s question that once abortion is criminalized, women who have an abortion could face legal punishment. Immediately, anti-choice leaders mounted an intense public relations campaign denying that any “pro-life” activists have a desire to punish women—part of their strategy to portray anti-choice groups as pro-women and not just pro-fetus. As I pointed out at the time, they were lying—a fact confirmed with striking clarity by this week’s news from Texas.
There’s a wave of anti-abortion-rights legislation at the state level, pushed in part by Religious Right legal giant the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is pursuing an explicit state-by-state strategy to pass ever-more-restrictive abortion bans and give the increasingly conservative Supreme Court opportunities to overturn Roe v Wade and allow states to criminalize abortion.
But the Texas legislation considered this week doesn’t intend to wait for that to happen. The Washington Post reports that the bill is written in direct defiance of the Roe v. Wade decision, directing authorities to enforce the law “regardless of any contrary federal law, executive order, or court decision.” That puts the legislation in company with other “nullification” efforts urged by Religious Right leaders, as well as Alabama’s Chief Justice Tom Parker.