An abortion rights demonstrator
An abortion rights demonstrator holds a sign outside of the Harris County Courthouse during the Women's Wave march in Houston, Texas, on October 8, 2022.
(Photo: Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images)

Texas GOP Wish List Includes Death Penalty for Abortion Patients

"We're talking about the official priority list of the governing party of the second-most populous state in America," said one advocate and author.

"Putting pregnant people to death for abortion has officially gone mainstream," said one reproductive justice group on Wednesday as the Texas Republican Party considered a platform for 2024 that includes a new proposal to ensure "equal protection for the preborn" under the state's criminal laws.

As writer and rights advocate Jessica Valenti, author of the Substack newsletter "Abortion, Every Day," explained on social media, the proposal within the state GOP's platform may have gone largely unnoticed as delegates voted on it last Saturday because the language used in the document doesn't explicitly call for abortion patients to face the death penalty.

But that's exactly what "equal protection for the preborn" means, said Valenti.

"'Equal protection' is a call for abortion to be treated as homicide, and for abortion patients to be prosecuted as [murderers]," Valenti wrote, pointing to bills in South Carolina and Georgia that were both called the Prenatal Equal Protection Act and aimed to make abortion punishable as a homicide.

Plank 35 of the platform calls for Texas Republicans to pass legislation that would grant "equal protection of the laws to all preborn children from the moment of fertilization." The 50-page document also states that "abortion is not healthcare, it is homicide."

In Texas, the murder of a child younger than 15 is punishable by the death penalty, and with "equal protection" for fetuses and embryos, advocates said this week that it stands to reason that people could also face execution for obtaining or providing abortion care if the state GOP enacts Plank 35 of its platform.

"If a fetus is considered a person, then it's considered a child," Farah Diaz-Tello, senior counsel and legal director at Lawyering for Reproductive Justice: If/When/How, toldHuffPost. "I wish I could say that the idea of the death penalty is a jump, but it's not... It's actually the next logical step."

The reproductive rights group Abortion Access Front noted that the Texas GOP is apparently unfazed "by being pro-life" while pushing for the death penalty for people who obtain abortion care.

Valenti cautioned against dismissing the proposal as one that's being promoted by a "fringe" contingent of the pro-forced pregnancy movement.

"The Texas Republican platform is known for being wacky in the scariest way possible: Delegates this year called for the Bible to be taught in public school, for gender-affirming care to be labeled 'child abuse,' and for the government to release all information on UFOs," she wrote. "But the bizarre extremism doesn't make this document a joke or any less dangerous. We're talking about the official priority list of the governing party of the second-most populous state in America."

"They are telling us what they believe and what they want for the future of this country," she added.

Texas Republicans have previously proposed bills that would classify abortion care as homicide and make it punishable by the death penalty, with measures failing to pass in the Legislature in 2017, 2019, and 2021.

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