Texas Proposal Would Allow Death Penalty for Having or Performing Abortions

March 10, 2021 Updated: March 10, 2021

A lawmaker in Texas has introduced a proposal that would enable prosecutors in the state to seek the death penalty for women who have abortions.

HB 3326 would abolish abortion in Texas, state Rep. Bryan Slaton, a Republican, wrote in a social media statement.

“The bill will end the discriminatory practice of terminating the life of innocent children, and will guarantee the equal protection of the laws to all Texans, no matter how small,” he said.

Formally known as the Abolition of Abortion through Equal Protection for All Unborn Children Act, the bill states that Texas is a free and independent state and that “the sanctity of innocent human life created in the image of God … should be equally protected from fertilization to natural death.”

From the time of conception, an unborn child “is entitled to the same rights, powers, and privileges as are secured or granted by the laws of this state to any other human person,” the bill continues. It would “rescind all licenses to kill unborn children by repealing discriminatory provisions.”

Part of the legislation would direct the state attorney general to use the existing criminal code against people who perform or have abortions, including laws against criminal homicide. In Texas, homicide can be punished by the death penalty.

Abortion is the termination of an unborn child or a fetus. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 55,000 abortions were performed in Texas in 2018, the most recent year for which figures were available.

“It is time for Texas to protect the natural right to life for the tiniest and most innocent Texans, and this bill does just that,” Slaton said in a statement. “It’s time Republicans make it clear that we actually think abortion is murder. Unborn children are dying at a faster rate in Texas than COVID patients, but Texas isn’t taking the abortion crisis seriously.”

Similar legislation was filed in the last legislative term by state Rep. Tony Tinderholt, but it failed in the Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee.

Republicans in Texas control both legislative chambers as well as the governor’s mansion.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick last month listed two abortion-related bills in his legislative priorities.

Senate Bill 8, or the Heart Bill, would restrict abortion after a heartbeat is detected in an unborn baby, while Senate Bill 9, or the “Abortion Ban Trigger,” would ban abortions if the Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade.

The bills were among those that reflect “the principles and values of the Texas conservative majority,” Patrick said in a statement.

The proposals drew criticism from Planned Parenthood, one of the nation’s largest abortion providers.

“Lt. Gov. Patrick wants to ban abortion at six weeks—before most people even know they are pregnant. Planned Parenthood will never stop fighting to protect patients and their access to reproductive health care, including abortion. Just when we think state leaders can’t go any lower, Dan Patrick throws out this list—nothing more than a political stunt and a weak attempt to save face with his base,” Dyana Limon-Mercado, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said in a statement.

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