"Doctors who perform illegal abortions in Texas could be prosecuted for capital murder and face a death sentence under recent changes in Texas law that have resulted in apparent unintended consequences.
While officials familiar with the new legislation say such prosecutions are unlikely, the possibility of a doctor on death row, whether intentional or not, puts a sharp focus on the importance of analyzing legislative activity every two years, officials say.
That's what Lindsey Roberts, director of training for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, was doing last week when he gave a legislative update to local prosecutors and defense attorneys at Baylor University.
Roberts spoke about a bill signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry in June at a Fort Worth church school that requires parental consent before minors can have abortions and places additional restrictions on late-term abortions.
In relation to those changes, Roberts noted that the Legislature two years ago altered the definition of an individual in homicide statutes from 'a human being who has been born and is alive' to 'a human being who is alive, including an unborn child at every stage of gestation, from fertilization until birth.'
There was debate when the definition of individual was changed about whether the effect would make abortion the equivalent of murder. So lawmakers took particular care to write into the homicide statute that a lawful medical procedure performed with consent by a physician or other licensed health-care provider, if the death of the unborn child was the intended result, is an abortion. That provided a lawful defense or exception to homicide laws.
Continuing to connect the statutory dots, however, Roberts told local prosecutors that there is no such defense provided for a doctor who performs an unlawful medical procedure, such as an abortion on a minor without parental consent."
This is where we are going. Currently, a minor pregnant woman cannot get an abortion without parental notification. She can go to a judge and get what is called a "judicial bypass" where the judge does not have to inform her parents if their may be violence as a result of parental notification. She has to prove to the judge she is making an informed, mature decision.
If a woman goes to a judge, seems to me, she knows the score.
One can readily see where this is going. Next year, Roe v. Wade will be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court and that probably means that states can determine their own abortion laws. Unless the Court says that abortion is unconstitutional, period. While technically a state can recognize more rights than the U.S. Constitution protects, I seriously doubt that Texas will take that bold step and recognize that women in Texas have the right to control their own bodies.
So this means that doctors who perform abortions on minors and later on emancipated women--those not living with their fathers, who are 18, can vote, hold a job, decide if they are going to have chocolate or vanilla--can be prosecuted for capital murder. Because that unborn fetus under the age of six years is more important than a woman. Never mind that she may have no health insurance, or has been raped, or is mentally unstable or retarded. She will carry that fetus to term. Never mind that we have very few orphanages in Texas, or that we don't allow gay couples to foster or adopt children. Never mind that she does not get alimony in Texas and child support enforcement is extremely difficult.
Do you feel trapped yet? Good. Because to be a woman in the state without U.S. Constitutional protection is to be trapped. If a woman cannot control her own body, she is dumped to second class citizen status because the government does not require men to father children, but will require women to bear them.
Don't forget, birth control pills are on their way out. Abortion and birth control came from privacy rights found in the 4th and 9th Amendments by a Supreme Court in a good mood with a strong sense of justice. The new Court majority will not see that. If there are no privacy rights, there are no birth control rights. No constitutional right to birth control because that right originates in privacy, not the marketplace where pharmaceutical companies simply make the birth control pills and therefore have a right to sell them. No one will have a right to buy them if the Court says there is no privacy right to control reproduction.