Texas abortion bill will not make it out of committee, chairman says

A proposed Texas House bill that would subject women who get abortions to criminal liability and possibly the death penalty will not be making it out of committee, says the committee's chairman.

State Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano), who serves as the chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence, issued a statement Wednesday evening on House Bill 896.

"My commitment to advancing the pro-life cause is stronger than ever and that's why I cannot in good conscience support House Bill 896..." Leach said. "Trusted pro-life legislators and advocates agree with that this bill moves our state and the pro-life cause in the wrong direction and it will not be advanced from the House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence."

HB 896, authored by state Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington), defines life as beginning at fertilization of the egg and criminalizes abortion regardless of who or how the procedure is performed or how the fetus was conceived, 

"My bill simply accomplishes one goal," Tinderholt said in a Facebook post Wednesday evening. "It brings equal treatment for unborn human beings under the law."

He also states that the Texas Penal Code already defines an individual as “a human being who is alive, including an unborn child from fertilization until birth," but that Texas law as it stands now provides two exceptions to homicide: a mother or a medical professional performing an abortion.

"The 5th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution guarantee due process of law to take an individual’s life, and as previously mentioned, an individual includes unborn babies in Texas statute," Tinderholt said. "Some think we should exempt mothers, but that would inherently treat unborn children differently than other people who are murdered."

The bill had a committee hearing that went into the early morning hours Tuesday, with over 500 people registering on the bill and 320 of those testifying, according to Tinderholt.

Tinderholt filed a similar bill in 2017, but it also failed to leave committee.