The Texas Republican Party Appears to Want the Death Penalty for Abortion Patients

The state Republican Party’s platform seems to want to recognize abortion as homicide, which, in Texas, qualifies for the death penalty. Things are going great!

The Texas Republican Party Appears to Want the Death Penalty for Abortion Patients

From the moment the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the door blew wide open for women’s rights to be dragged backward in a gazillion other ways, and the Texas Republican Party seems determined to push the limits of this. On Saturday, delegates of the state Republican Party voted on the party’s 2024 platform and their most aspirational policy proposals are… not great. 

First reported by the Texas Tribune and the Abortion Every Day newsletter, the proposed platform calls for a range of horrific policies on reproductive rights, including legal recognition of fetuses as people, the criminalization of IVF, and the classification of abortion as homicide—which, in Texas, qualifies for the death penalty. The party also wants Christianity to be taught in public schools and for gender-affirming care to be classified as “child abuse.” Their proposed platform is mostly a dream journal of what they aim to accomplish down the line, but it’s chilling to remember that ending Roe was once a dream for them too.

Specifically, Texas Republicans are demanding “equal protection of the laws to all preborn children from the moment of fertilization,” and that the government recognize “abortion is not healthcare, it is homicide.” The votes on whether to adopt the platform are expected to be tallied this week.

This proposed platform is all the more alarming in the context that Texas leads the nation in executions. “The state of Texas is a leader in controlling people with their penal system. If a fetus is considered a person, then it’s considered a child, which is a vulnerable population. … Homicide of identified vulnerable persons escalates penalties,” Farah Diaz-Tello, senior counsel and legal director at If/When/How, told HuffPost. 

To Diaz-Tello’s point, it’s not a coincidence that the proposed platform advocates for both fetal personhood and recognition of abortion as homicide. As Dana Sussman, executive vice president of Pregnancy Justice, previously told Jezebel, fetal personhood “normalizes the idea that a pregnant person is not their own person anymore.” Consequently, “if their rights are secondary to the fetus, or at odds with the fetus, that lends to an environment in which state violence”—like, say, the death penalty—“can be committed against pregnant people.”

Texas Republicans’ proposed platform is also at odds with mainstream anti-abortion leaders’ years-long promise that abortion bans would only punish and criminalize abortion providers instead of patients. Of course, we’ve always known this was disingenuous: Just in recent years, there have been several high-profile cases of people facing arrest and criminal charges for self-managed abortions in Nebraska and Texas, as well as other cases of people facing criminal charges for pregnancy-related decisions and outcomes.

As alarming as the party platform’s demands are, unfortunately, they’re fairly in line with what anti-abortion lawmakers and courts are already proposing. Earlier this year, the Alabama Supreme Court effectively outlawed IVF by recognizing embryos as “extrauterine children” eligible for wrongful death lawsuits, prompting fertility clinics across the state to pause IVF services until a new bill passed to explicitly protect IVF

As for the state Republican Party’s interest in subjecting pregnant people to death, well, that’s fairly in line with what Texas’ Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton has long advocated for. In 2022, Paxton and the state of Texas sued the Biden administration for a guidance invoking EMTALA (the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act), reminding hospitals to offer stabilizing, emergency abortion care to pregnant people as needed. A court sided with Texas and affirmed its right to let pregnant people die. The Supreme Court is currently weighing Biden’s guidance and will issue a ruling soon.

Across the country, in the aftermath of the Supreme Court overturning Roe, a wave of states including Texas, Kentucky, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Arkansas introduced abortion bans that would classify abortion as homicide punishable with the death penalty. The bills were ultimately unsuccessful. But they’re a reminder that Texas Republicans’ proposed platform is terrifying and draconian, but all of its most extreme points have already been proposed or, in some cases, even implemented in recent years.

Speaking to HuffPost, Diaz-Tello pointed out that, however disturbing, the death penalty for abortion is “the next logical step” in anti-abortion lawmakers’ crusade. After all, even as anti-abortion activists frantically try to rebrand themselves as pro-women, this—charging pregnant people with homicide for having abortions—is the natural conclusion of fetal personhood.

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