Updated: 9:14 AM ET, Thu April 11, 2019
Lawmakers in Texas are considering to pass a bill that would allow a woman who undergoes an abortion procedure to be charged with capital murder, a crime that is punishable by death in the state of Texas.
House Bill 896 that was introduced to the Texas House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee would remove the exception in the penal code for the criminal homicide that applies to both the women who have the procedure and the medical professionals that perform it, convicting them for the murder of an unborn child.
The action would conceal the ban on abortion procedures in the state, allowing the state to enforce the bill “regardless of any contrary federal law, executive order, or court decision.” The landmark 1973 US Supreme Court decision in Roe v Wade acknowledged a woman’s right to have an abortion under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
“A living human 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 claims.
As of now, the bill has not yet passed out of committee or gone to the House floor for debate. In 2017 the bill was introduced. However, it did not receive a hearing until now. Currently, Republicans hold a more significant majority in both Texas Legislature chambers.
Jeff Leach, who is the committee’s chairman and Republican Rep., mentioned last week that he would not be allowing a bill out of committee that “targets the woman with either civil or criminal liability,” according to Dallas Morning News. Leach said he would be granting a hearing for any bill requested by a member.
During Monday’s hearing on HB 896, the committee heard from over 300 witnesses that later moved into the early hours of Tuesday morning. According to Leach, 446 total witnesses have registered their approval for the bill to take effect, with 54 against it.