Texas bill could take criminalization of abortion to a new level

Earlier this month, Republican lawmakers in the Texas state legislature introduced a bill that could make driving women to have an abortion a punishable offense. The bill, which passed the House on May 26 and now awaits the signature of Texas’ Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, recognizes anyone directly or indirectly involved in the process of a woman getting an abortion as an accessory, and could even send them to jail.

Doctors providing abortions, receptionists at abortion clinics, and, according to the Texas Observer, “the bank teller who cashed the check that paid for the procedure” could all serve time effective Sept. 1 this year if Abbott signs off on the bill, which additionally bans the dilation and evacuation procedure, an objectively safe, low-risk second trimester abortion procedure.

Despite essentially treating abortion, which has been federally legal since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, as a crime, and punishing all those involved as criminals, the radical bill passed the Texas House and Senate with little opposition.

Democratic state Sen. Joe Moody introduced an amendment to prohibit people from being punished for being involved in helping women access abortion, a fairly rational demand in a country where abortion is supposedly legal, but the amendment failed in a 51-83 vote, with one Democrat even voting against it.

Earlier this year, the state of Texas unsuccessfully attempted to defund Planned Parenthood, and previously passed a law that required women who had abortions to pay out of pocket for the burial and cremation of their aborted fetus. The law was not only signed off on but also vehemently supported by Gov. Abbott, and was only repealed when a federal court ruled against it.

Unsurprisingly, Texas is the state where TRAP laws — or the targeted regulation of abortion providers — originate. Before the Supreme Court’s June 2016 ruling on Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, Texas’ House Bill 2 decimated the abortion clinics open in the state. Now, state lawmakers continue to fight abortion access just as aggressively by introducing legislation that essentially criminalizes the procedure.

Featured image via Flickr