A Texas Republican is under police protection after receiving “credible death threats” because of legislation he’s introduced that would outlaw abortion in the Lone Star State – a proposal appropriately titled the Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act.
“The threats that have been made to my family pale in comparison to the threat that abortion is to every unborn child in America! Your prayers for my family and team are greatly appreciated,” state Rep. Tony Tinderholt posted on his Facebook page.
Tinderholt said he has received “vile vulgar threats that eventually turned to death threats. It only strengths my resolve.”
Tinderholt spokesman Luke Macias said the Republican and his family have been placed under Texas Department of Public Safety protection with local assistance from the Arlington, Texas, Police Department.
The anger streaming Tinderholt’s way is the result of legislation he proposed in January, House Bill 948.
Under the legislation, women who seek abortions and doctors who do the procedure could be charged with murder.
“We are talking the exception out of the penal code for murder, for the act of abortion, which is murder. We are trying to save the lives of children in Texas,” Tinderholt said on the Blaze Network’s “Tomi Lauren Show.”
HB 94 would criminalize abortions at any stage of pregnancy, and for any reason. No longer would women be allowed to abort an unborn child that was the result of rape or incest, or because of fetal abnormalities.
“(I am) a firm believer that God creates children in his own image, regardless of how that child is brought into the world, it’s created in his image, and how can someone want to destroy that?” he said.
To Tinderholt’s mind, and under his legislation, abortion is nothing but criminal homicide. However, the Abolition of Abortion Act does not specify what charges the woman or her doctor might face if convicted.
He also believes that existing Texas law should protect the unborn because the Texas Penal Code’s definition of a person includes “an unborn child at every stage of gestation from fertilization until birth.”
“Abortion continues because we have allowed the federal courts to overrule the Texas Declaration of Independence, the Texas Constitution, the U.S. Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution, all of which stand for the fact that the duty of our government is to protect our God-given right to life,” Tinderholt said.
Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, believes Tinderholt’s proposal is dangerous.
“This cruel bill is the most extreme measure we’ve seen at the Texas Legislature. It takes away a pregnant person’s legal rights and could open up to investigation and prosecution of anyone who has a miscarriage or who seeks an abortion,” Busby said in a statement. “When politicians criminalize safe medical procedures, they put patients’ health and safety at risk.”
Critics of the legislation question whether the men who sleep with and impregnate the outlaw women who would get abortions would also be prosecuted.
Luke Macias, speaking for Tinderholt, told the New York Daily News the answer to that question would be “yes,” if the father of the child was involved in the abortion.
“The reality is that if the father is in any way involved in the conspiracy to end the life of a human being — communication with an abortion doctor, transportation, facilitation — he will be held accountable,” Macias said.
Tinderholt has the Republican Party of Texas on his side. Outlawing abortion is one of the state GOP’s priorities in its platform approved at its 2016 state convention.
“Abolish abortion by enacting legislation to stop the murder of unborn children; And to ignore and refuse to enforce any and all federal statutes, regulations, executive orders, and court rulings which would deprive an unborn child of the right to life,” read the GOP platform approved in May 2016.
However, ending abortions is only part of what upset the Texas pro-choice advocates.
What really lit their anger was Tinderholt’s comment about the motivation for House Bill 948. Sure, he believes that abortion is murder. But Tinderholt also thinks that if abortion was outlawed, and only outlaws have abortions, women would be forced to become “more personally responsible when they know there’s repercussions.”
“Right now, it’s real easy. Right now, they don’t make it important to be personally responsible because they know that they have a backup of ‘oh, I can just go get an abortion,’” Tinderholt, 44, told the Texas Observer.
“Now, we both know that consenting adults don’t always think smartly sometimes. But consenting adults need to also consider the repercussions of the sexual relationship that they’re gonna have, which is a child,” he added.
“That is so ignorant to think…that women are somehow irresponsibly deciding that they’re going to go ahead and get pregnant because it’s so easy to get an abortion,” Rep. Donna Howard (D) told the Texas Observer. “And for the Legislature to insert themselves in these decisions — it’s just baffling to me that he could have that lack of compassion and understanding for fellow Texans.”