Texas lawmaker who introduced bill criminalizing abortion: Women should be more ‘personally responsible’ for sex

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Tony Tinderholt (house.state.tx.us)
Tony Tinderholt (house.state.tx.us)

A Texas lawmaker who wants to criminalize abortion says he believes women ought to be “more personally responsible” for their sexual behavior.

“Right now, it’s real easy,” Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, told the Texas Observer this week. “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.”

Earlier this month, Tinderholt introduced a bill that would ban abortions in Texas at any stage and direct state officials to ignore “any conflicting federal” laws, including the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.

“A living human child, from the moment of fertilization upon the 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 states.

And pregnancies resulting from rape or incest would not be exempt under Tinderholt’s proposal.

“I don’t think that there should be any exceptions to murder, no matter what,” he said. “So if this child was out of the womb and it was a child that was born out of rape or incest, no one would be OK with killing a child. I look at it like that child is a child in the womb, just like it’s out.”

Pro-choice activists wait for rulings in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on June 27, 2016. (Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
Supporters of abortion rights wait for rulings at the U.S. Supreme Court last June. (Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

Both legal observers and abortion-rights advocates say the bill is unconstitutional and would take the Longhorn State back in time.

“This bill is an outright ban on abortion and would punish people who get abortions and the doctors who provide them,” Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said in a statement. “This cruel bill is the most extreme measure we’ve seen at the Texas Legislature. It takes away a pregnant person’s legal rights and could open up to investigation and prosecution of anyone who has a miscarriage or who seeks an abortion. When politicians criminalize safe medical procedures, they put patients’ health and safety at risk.”

Tinderholt did not immediately return a request seeking further comment.

The legislation is in line with the official party platform Texas Republicans published last year.

“We call upon the Texas Legislature to enact legislation stopping the murder of unborn children,” the Texas GOP platform states, “and to ignore and refuse to enforce any and all federal statutes, regulations, executive orders, and court rulings, which would deprive an unborn child of the right to life.”

The platform also defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman and homosexuality as “a chosen behavior,” and it calls for the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

In response, Texas Democrats in both the state House and Senate had planned to file a resolution this week declaring that “abortion is healthcare and should be treated as such.”

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