Facebook | State Representative Tony Tinderholt

Some Politicians Are Proposing The Death Penalty For Women Who Get Abortions

There's no more divisive issue in America than abortion. If you want to get passions ignited, all you have to do is mention the word. It's that easy.

So politicians and lawmakers might have a tough time navigating those emotions, especially where they conflict with the laws that have already been decided. And some are just as passionate as their constituents on the matter, leading them to take a much more extreme stance than we're used to seeing.

In Texas, lawmakers are actively listening to a proposal to punish women who get abortions with the death penalty.

Unsplash | Maria Oswalt

Under House Bill 896, also known as the "Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act," women who get abortions, as well as doctors who provide abortions, could be charged with homicide and face the death penalty.

The bill, which was granted a hearing in front of the state's Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee, was first introduced back in January.

Facebook | State Representative Tony Tinderholt

The bill states that "A living child, from the moment of fertilization on fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum, is entitled to the same rights, powers, and privileges as are secured or granted by the laws of this state to any other human child."

The bill would also not excuse women who have abortions in cases of rape, human trafficking, or incest, and it directly conflicts with Roe v. Wade.

The legislation was introduced by Republican State Rep. Tony Tinderholt, and it's not his first time introducing such a bill.

Facebook | State Representative Tony Tinderholt

In 2017, Tinderholt attempted to criminalize abortion in Texas, but his legislation wasn't granted a hearing at the time.

According to the The Texas Tribune, Tinderholt had to be placed under state protection after facing death threats over the proposed bill.

Tinderholt has a couple of reasons for introducing the bill.

Facebook | State Representative Tony Tinderholt

For one, he says he wants to "force" women to be "more personally responsible" with sex, he told The Texas Observer back in 2017.

"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.’ Now, we both know that consenting adults don’t always think smartly sometimes. But consenting adults need to also consider the repercussions of the sexual relationship that they’re gonna have, which is a child."

Tinderholt also says that he wants to "equalize the law."

Facebook | State Representative Tony Tinderholt

"I think it’s important to remember that if a drunk driver kills a pregnant woman, they get charged twice. If you murder a pregnant woman, you get charged twice. So I’m not specifically criminalizing women. What I’m doing is equalizing the law," Tinderholt told Fox 9.

Those who oppose Tinderholt's legislation argue that it's a hypocritical bill.

Facebook | Victoria Neave

"I’m trying to reconcile in my head the arguments that I heard tonight about how essentially one is OK with subjecting a woman to the death penalty... to do to her the exact same thing that one is alleging she is doing to a child," Democratic State Rep. Victoria Neave said during the hearing, according to HuffPost.

Even some anti-abortion groups oppose Tinderholt's bill.

Unsplash | Maria Oswalt

Texans for Life told HuffPost that it "does not support any bill on abortion that would penalize women. Penalizing women only protects the abortionist. As a practical matter, one can’t put the abortionist out of business without the help of the woman. There is also the grave concern that women facing penalties of any kind would not seek help in the event of complications."

And Texas Alliance for Life also stated its opposition to Tinderholt's bill, citing the unlikelihood of it ever being adopted.

The organization told HuffPost that the bill "has little chance of surviving a federal court challenge as it violates Supreme Court precedent. We are greatly concerned that HB 896 criminalizes women on whom an abortion is performed. We strongly oppose that policy."

The committee's chairman, Republican State Rep. Jeff Leach, said he granted the hearing to create a "culture of life" despite some serious misgivings about the bill.

Facebook | Jeff Leach

However, despite the hearing, the bill appears to be dead on arrival.

Leach, told the [Dallas Morning News] that "I am pro-life, through and through. No one can question my credentials on this issue and my commitment to this important cause. That said, I do not believe that convicting a woman who has an abortion of murder and possibly subjecting her to the death penalty is constitutional, nor does such a policy advance the cause of life in Texas."

Tinderholt isn't the first politician to propose the death penalty for women who get abortions, either.

Twitter | @SenBobNonini

When he was a candidate to serve as Idaho's lieutenant governor in 2018, State Senator Bob Nonini said that punishment for abortion should include the death penalty, although he later walked back that language, saying that "There is no way a woman would go to jail let alone face the death penalty. The statute alone, the threat of prosecution, would dramatically reduce abortion. That is my goal."

And in 2018, lawmakers in Ohio considered similar legislation.

Republican State Representatives Ron Hood and Nino Vitale co-sponsored a bill that would ban all abortions at all stages of pregnancy, whether caused by rape, incest, and even if the mother's life was in danger.

They said charges and punishments would be left up to prosecutors, which could include the death penalty under Ohio law.

h/t NBC News, HuffPost, The Dallas Morning News