a bird and a bottle


Um, Phew?
January 27, 2007, 5:33 pm
Filed under: criminal justice, news, reproductive justice

I’m not sure if I should be relieved our outraged.

According to the Dallas Morning News (via Repro Rights Law Profs Blog), the Texas Attorney General has issued an advisory opinion that doctors should not be subject to the death penalty for performing illegal abortions, either in the third trimester of pregnancy or for a woman under 18 without parental consent.

Ooook. Good to know. But why the hell are we even asking this question?

Apparently, in the last legislative session, Texas state lawmakers added to the books new restrictions on doctors who perform abortions as part of a law regulating medical practices. So TX prosecutors wanted to know – of course – whether they could start arrestin’ doctors and trying to give them the death penalty. Because, you know, they have just GOT to give those doctors the needle in order protect the sanctity of life and all.

The question is hypothetical for now since no prosecutor has charged a doctor with capital murder for performing an abortion yet. But the AG’s opinion (saying that no, such charges would not be in keeping with the law’s intent) is only advisory, which means local zealots who masquerade as prosecutors are free to file whatever charges they want to, even when such charges result from a total bastardization of the law.

And that’s what would be necessary to file capital murder charges based on this new Texas regulation. The regulation in question is not even part of the criminal code and the AG claims that the legislature did not intend for violations of the law’s abortion provisions to be punished under the penal law, but instead as regulatory infractions.

But given that the state has also somewhere in its laws defined a fetus as a person and that most states’ Unborn Victims of Violence Act laws exempt only the pregnant woman herself, it may only be so long before a doctor faces the death penalty for allowing a woman to live her life.

Crazy huh? Not quite what I’d call a culture of life.

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