It had to happen somewhere, sooner or later, and none of us should be surprised that it has happened first in Texas. The rabidly anti-choice mob comprising the majority of the Texas Legislature passed a law this year that finally has abortion-providing physicians exactly where the Rapture Right wants them: subject to the death penalty.
How could such a thing have happened? In a state like mine, how can you ask?
The new law was signed by Rick Perry at a Fort Worth church three months ago, on the same occasion that he notoriously suggested that returning Iraq veterans should come back to anywhere but Texas . . . if they were gay.
But at least he didn’t sign their death warrants.
“It has been a tragedy of unspeakable consequences that for decades activist courts denied many Texas parents their right to be involved in one of the most important decisions their young daughter could ever make – whether to end the life that was growing inside her,” Perry told a crowd of about 1,000 people gathered at the Calvary Christian Academy. “For too long, a blind eye has been turned to the rights of our most vulnerable human beings – that’s the unborn in our society.”
Texas already had a parental notification bill, approved in 1999. The new, tougher measure requires a parent to provide written consent for unmarried girls under 18.
Before Perry spoke, several pastors received standing ovations and shouts of “Amen!” from the crowd as they touted the two measures being signed by Perry.
“It seems to me that people of the great state of Texas will be silent no more,” said Rod Parsley, of the Center for Moral Clarity in Ohio. “Folks in this room understand, God is still watching.”
Pastor Larry White of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Houston said the gathering inside the church school was about life, family and marriage.
“There are those that would drive people of faith from the public square if they could,” White said.
Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt said many of the critics “would object to this bill-signing if it were in a public school, a library, a Wal-Mart parking lot or any other venue, because they oppose pro-life and pro-family issues.”
This particular critic doesn’t give a nickel-plated damn where Brother Perry signed such an appallingly framed and potentially lethal excuse for a statute. If he didn’t realize what he was doing, he’s merely hopelessly incompetent. But if he did know, there are no words for what he is.
Sunday, August 28
Texas Authorizes Death for Some Abortion Providers
Abortion providers in Texas who don’t follow the exacting letter of that State’s abortion law are eligible for capital punishment according to the Texas District and County Attorneys Association’s Lindsay Roberts. “This is a case study of sorts on how changing one code can have dramatic effects on other codes that actually reference those statutes,” Roberts said. “I presented it as an unintended consequence on a change to the civil code, but you will have to talk to your local prosecutors there about how they will handle those situations. I just presented what the Legislature has done.”
The Waco Tribune-Herald notes:
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.
So, in effect, the doctor would have killed a child younger than 6 in an illegal abortion and thereby subjected himself or herself to potential prosecution for capital murder, Roberts told the dumbfounded audience.
OK, I’m not a doctor, so all I can be charged with is having an average degree of imagination.
Scenario #1: Kim and Katie are sisters. Kim is 17 and Katie is 19, but like many other sisters, they look alike enough to be twins. Their devoutly antiabortion parents hate Kim’s boyfriend, believe that she broke up with him when they ordered her to stop seeing him three months ago – and now Kim is pregnant. There will be hell to pay if Mom and Dad find out, so Kim makes an appointment for an abortion in Katie’s name. She borrows her sister’s driver’s license, presents it at the clinic as her own ID, and no one suspects a thing. A week later, while Kim is at school, Mom tosses her bedroom and finds a crumpled note from Kim’s best friend that mentions Kim’s abortion.
Scenario #2: There’s already a ton of paperwork required for getting an abortion in Texas. There’s a consent form for the ultrasound and the prerequisite lab tests. There’s a receipt for the clinic’s HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices, and another signature to attest that a woman has received a copy of her aftercare instructions. There’s a consent form for IV sedation, and yet another for the abortion procedure itself. And then there’s the woman’s signed certification that the doctor personally gave her a laundry list of state-mandated information (including dire warnings of such mythical consequences of abortion as breast cancer and thoughts of suicide), and that she afterward completed a 24-hour waiting period before her procedure — a document without which no abortion in Texas can be legally performed. Somewhere amid all this documenting and attesting, a woman will have questions about birth control, about how the abortion procedure itself is going to feel, and about a dozen other things.
If the patient is a minor, her mother will have many questions of her own. And while a clinic’s staff is making sure that having an abortion really is the teenager’s idea and not just what her parents want, detailing the patient’s medical history, flagging the chart for medical evaluation, filling out the lab requisition form for a Pap smear or selecting informational materials for the girl to take home — or while they’re doing any number of other necessary things — it’s humanly possible that they could overlook yet one more form, the one that certifies parental consent.
Scenario #3: The parental notification law was part of the Texas Family Code, but in its fervid zeal to tighten restrictions on abortion, the Lege attached the new consent law as an amendment to an entirely different section of the state statutes. The law requires the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners to provide doctors with an official consent form for compliance, but TSBME says that it will be next spring before they create that form and make it available. Until then, doctors are on their own, and simply will have to hope that whatever documentary standards they come up with now eventually will prove to have met legal criteria yet unknown. But I’m sure that’s nothing for them to worry about — not in Texas.
Before September 1, performing an abortion without having a teenager’s parent sign a form could have cost doctors their licenses to practice. Now, under the law of the State of Texas, it could cost them their lives.
And it seems odd that some of the holy hyenas who howled the loudest about stopping abortion during the legislative session now seem unusually reluctant to comment about what they’ve accomplished.
In signing the parental consent bill, Perry said, “Today, we are laying down a significant marker in the effort to create a culture of life by protecting those who can’t protect themselves, by giving voice to the voiceless who yearn for life.”
Robert Black, the governor’s deputy press secretary, said last week that his office was not aware of the potential created by the new bill for doctors who perform illegal abortions to face possible death sentences.
“During the legislative process, a lot of folks see conspiracies everywhere,” Black said. “But the fact is that the parental notification law as well as the parental consent legislation that the governor has always supported is intended to protect young girls and protect the rights of parents. What you mentioned is a hypothetical and we are not going down the road of hypotheticals.”
Cold comfort, when everybody knows how they enforce the death penalty down here in Texas — hypothetically.
Roberts said he is no conspiracy theorist.
“We are just giving facts. . . . Roberts said. “It shows you that when they change one thing, for whatever reason they changed it, it can have an effect on other things. It happens all the time. We are just telling it like it is.“
And I can’t think of a single reason not to believe him.