Texas GOP Appears To Put Death Penalty For Abortion Patients On 2024 Wish List

The Republican Party of Texas is considering a platform that appears to endorse the death penalty for abortion providers and patients.

Texas delegates voted on a 2024 platform at the state’s GOP Convention on Saturday and aim to tally the votes by Wednesday to finalize their platform for the coming year. The proposal called for new legislation to solidify fetal personhood ideology into law, define abortion care as homicide and criminalize in vitro fertilization, first reported by feminist writer Jessica Valenti.

The 50-page document also includes a slew of other far-right ideas such as proclaiming that gender-affirming care is “child abuse,” requirements that Christianity and the Bible be taught in public schools, and clarifies that Texas “retains the right to secede from the United States.”

The platform is seen as more of a wish list than a binding document, but it’s a critical reflection of how far right the Texas Republican Party has moved in recent years.

The GOP platform calls for an “equal protection of the laws to all preborn children from the moment of fertilization,” and later states that “abortion is not healthcare, it is homicide.” The phrase “equal protection of the law” is used in the anti-choice movement to define abortion as homicide, and criminalizes abortion physicians and patients as murderers.

The Republican Party of Texas did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

Texas has executed more people than any other state. Although the platform language doesn’t require that Texas treat abortion as capital murder ― the only offense that’s punishable by the death penalty in the state ― Texas law currently treats the murder of a child younger than 15 as a capital offense.

“The state of Texas is a leader in controlling people with their penal system,” said Farah Diaz-Tello, senior counsel and legal director at Lawyering for Reproductive Justice: If/When/How. “If a fetus is considered a person, then it’s considered a child, which is a vulnerable population. … Homicide of identified vulnerable persons escalates penalties.”

As Valenti points out, South Carolina and Georgia recently tried to pass legislation called the Prenatal Equal Protection Act, which aimed to punish abortion as murder under the states’ criminal codes. Texas lawmakers have also proposed legislation — often referred to as “abolish abortion bills” — to erase a distinction between abortion and homicide.

“I wish I could say that the idea of the death penalty is a jump, but it’s not,” said Diaz-Tello, adding that for the anti-abortion movement in Texas, “it’s actually the next logical step.”

Even within the anti-choice movement, prosecuting an abortion patient is a fringe belief. Most anti-abortion laws include carve-outs to ensure that a woman is not criminalized for her pregnancy outcome (although many have been arrested, despite these laws).

“For a long time, I think [abortion opponents] understood ― from their own polling and certainly the messaging we saw them use ― that there was a limit to how far they could go because voters in Texas appeared to be willing to only go so far alongside them,” said Wendy Davis, senior adviser to Planned Parenthood Texas Votes and a former state senator.

“One of those bright lines that they appeared to believe they shouldn’t cross was a line that would hold a pregnant person criminally or civilly liable for seeking to terminate her pregnancy,” Davis said. “That line is dangerously evaporating, and it’s evaporating purposefully because the fringe element that is more and more becoming reflective of the Republican Party writ large in Texas is having a greater and greater influence.”

The party platform also supports “the adoption of human embryos” as well as “the banning of human embryo trafficking.” This is an obvious attack on in vitro fertilization (IVF), which Davis pointed out is likely the next step for the anti-abortion movement in Texas. If adopted, this could threaten IVF patients who chose to transfer their embryos out of state, fearing what happened in Alabama would happen next in Texas.

“It’s also possible that people who refer patients traveling for abortion could be considered as ‘trafficking embryos,’” Davis added. “That raises some really major concerns as well.”

The platform also addressed two major abortion issues that are in front of the Supreme Court this session: the use of abortion pills and lifesaving abortion care in emergency medical situations. The document endorsed banning the “manufacturing, importation, sale, dispensing and use of abortifacients,” which Texas currently does. It also states that they support Texas’ current medical emergency exception within the state’s near-total abortion ban, adding that although the exception language should not be altered, “implementation does need to be addressed” — likely referring to the dozens of women in Texas who have nearly died because they were refused lifesaving abortion care.

Sarafina Chitika, a senior spokesperson for the Biden-Harris campaign, said none of this would be possible without former president and current GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump has repeatedly said he supports extreme MAGA state laws that monitor women’s pregnancies and control their health care decisions ― now the Texas GOP, which endorsed Donald Trump ― has proposed the death penalty for abortion patients as part of its official 2024 platform,” she wrote to HuffPost. “Let’s be clear: their cruel agenda wouldn’t be possible without Donald Trump overturning Roe v. Wade. And like every extreme ban across the country ripping away women’s freedom, Donald Trump owns this.”

Democratic National Committee spokesperson Maddy Mundy added that the Texas GOP is an ally of Trump’s. If he wins in November, wish lists like these will come true.

“From criminalization to calls for the death penalty, Trump has emboldened MAGA state extremists across the country to persecute women,” Mundy said. “Trump endorses prosecuting women, he supports a nationwide abortion ban, and is responsible for millions of women now struggling to access fundamental health care. This November, voters across the country will put an end to Trump and MAGA Republicans’ dangerous, anti-freedom assaults when they reject them at the ballot box.”