by Steven Ertelt
July 13, 2006
Austin, TX (LifeNews.com) — A state lawmaker has asked Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to determine if new pro-life laws limiting abortion have created a scenario where abortion practitioners could be charged with capital murder and receive the death penalty for doing an abortion. Several observers say that’s not the case and two pro-life laws don’t contract each other.
State legislators recently approved two pro-life laws.
The first regards late-term abortions and obtaining the consent of a parent before an abortion can be done. The second protect pregnant women who are victims of violence and calls for a second charge against criminals who kill or injure an unborn baby in the process.
While many other state shave both laws on the books, there has never been a case where an abortion practitioner was charged with capital murder for an abortion that violated state limits. Most laws contain misdemeanors or lower class felonies and include fines or a short jail sentence.
But the Texas District and County Attorneys Association says the new Texas laws unintentionally created a situation where abortion practitioners could be charged.
The bill protecting pregnant women says doctors would not be charged who are performing "lawful medical procedures." But with most late-term abortions and abortion on teens without parental consent becoming unlawful, the group says abortion practitioners could be charged with murder in such cases and possibly receive the death penalty.
Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, which supported the two pro-life bills, told the Houston Chronicle he doesn’t think that will happen. He says the bill on late-term abortions and parental consent makes it so violations are prosecuted under the Occupations Code, which would allow for a 10-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine.
The Texas Medical Association agrees with Pojman, the Houston paper reports.
"The Legislature specifically established penalties when it passed the new law. Any physician who violates that law obviously should not be subject to capital punishment," Brent Annear, a spokesman for the group, said.
State Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. David Swinford, who asked for the opinion, says he also doesn’t think the death penalty would come into play.