A Texas state lawmaker received threats for the second time this year after he questioned why the state has more protections for animals than it does for unborn babies.
State Rep. Tony Tinderholt, a Republican from Arlington, Texas, and his family were put under state protection in January after he received multiple death threats related to a bill he introduced to ban abortions.
This second stream of threats relates to his comments on an animal cruelty bill that state lawmakers are considering.
The threats — such as “I hope you die” — came after the Arlington Republican argued that the penalty proposed for animal cruelty cases under Senate Bill 762 should be lowered to a state jail felony, the same sentence lawmakers earlier this session set for doctors that perform partial birth or dismemberment abortions.
Tinderholt said a higher punishment indicates the state has more respect and care for animals than unborn children.
“I couldn’t imagine anyone ever wanting to harm an animal, it’s absolutely disgusting to do so,” Tinderholt said. “However, I also couldn’t allow a more severe penalty for killing an animal than for killing a human child.”
In January, Tinderholt and his family were put under the protection of the Texas Department of Public Safety, according to local news reports at the time. They received additional help from the Arlington Police Department and Tarrant County sheriff’s office, Micah Cavanaugh, Tinderholt’s chief of staff, said in a statement in January.
They said the threats began after Tinderholt introduced Texas House Bill 948, or “Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act,” which would amend the state code to say that a child’s life begins at “the moment of fertilization.” It also would remove exceptions for abortion from the state penal code on criminal homicide, and allow abortion practitioners and women to be charged with murder. The bill includes an exception to allow an abortion if the mother’s life is in jeopardy.
“I’m pretty passionate about the pro-life movement,” Tinderholt said when he introduced the bill. “When you read and see how abortions are performed, and how they end the life of an innocent child, it amazes me that we allow that.
“When we look back over history and we see … the cultures that took the lives of children, people are appalled by that,” he continued. “People are going to do that with America, too, and look back one day and say they can’t believe we allowed this.”
Reports at the time indicated authorities were investigating the threats. No new details about the investigations appear to have been released.
His wife and children also were threatened in 2016. According to Dallas News, police said they later linked the harassment to Matthew James Powers, a candidate for the Arlington City Council. Earlier this year, police said they arrested Powers and charged him with harassment. The incident appears to be unrelated to the threats Tinderholt received this month and in January.
Pro-lifers increasingly have been targeted with threats, vandalism and other forms of hostility in the past few years. On college campuses, student abortion activists have vandalized pro-life displays and then bragged about it. Pro-life lawmakers and at least two sidewalk counselors have received death threats. And at least two pro-life organizations had their buildings targeted in possible hate crimes.
In late 2015, a Missouri pro-life lawmaker also received a death threat while he led an investigation into the abortion giant Planned Parenthood.