Texas bill defines ‘Moment That Life Begins,’ aims at eliminating abortion
If approved by Texas lawmakers, the Bill Burch Act will eliminate abortion in the state and nation — at least, that’s what Bill Burch says. The Act, filed by state Rep. Wayne Christian (R-Center) as House Bill 1109, stipulates that human life “begins at the moment that the initial splitting of a human cell occurs during fertilization.”
“With that definition, you can’t have abortion,” said Burch, chairman and president of conservative group Grass Roots Institute of Texas.
The Act amends Texas Health and Safety Code by inserting a definition for the “Moment That Life Begins” and gives unborn embryos and fetuses “the rights, protections, and privileges accorded to any other person in this state.” For authority, the legislation appeals to the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which specifies that powers not reserved to the federal government belong to the individual states.
The theory is the U.S. Supreme Court will be more likely to uphold a state’s defining an embryo as a living human being than it would be to overturn abortion rights under Roe vs. Wade. If the embryo is a human being, then abortion would be murder under the law. If all states approved similar definitions, then abortion would be illegal everywhere.
“That bill right there will pass, and we will eliminate abortion in the United States. The pro-choice people will contest it,” Burch said. “It will be kind of stupid for them to contest it because once they contest it, it will go to the Supreme Court. Once it goes to the Supreme Court, it will pass muster, and it will become law of the land. And they will have lost their cause utterly.”
NARAL Pro-Choice Texas Executive Director Sara Cleveland said the Act would “open up a Pandora’s box of legal challenges,” forcing courts to consider weighing the rights of women against the rights of embryos, creating potential conflicts in situations other than abortion, such as hormonal birth control, in vitro fertilization, stem cell research or prenatal health care responsibilities.
“It’s a threat to all women. It’s a bad idea to try to amend the basis of all other laws, when the answer to the question of ‘What will happen?’ is ‘I don’t know,’” Cleveland said.
Similar efforts to define when human life begins are underway in several states and in the U.S. Congress. In November, Coloradoans voted down a so-called Personhood Amendment by a 73-27 margin, rejecting it for the second time in two years. (Read more in our sister publications the Florida Independent and Colorado Independent.)
In other states, an organization called Personhood USA leads efforts, typically by getting state constitutional amendments on the ballot through referendums, a process Texas lacks. However, Christian’s legislation is not related to those other efforts, said Dan Hawkins of Personhood Texas.
“I read the bill. I like the bill. I don’t think it has much teeth right now,” Hawkins said. “It leaves abortion regulations untouched.”
Hawkins said Texas Penal Code already has a definition for human life. According to the Penal Code, “‘Individual’ means a human being who is alive, including an unborn child at every stage of gestation from fertilization until birth.” Other portions of the law contain exceptions for abortions, he said, exceptions he would like to have removed.
“What Personhood USA wants to see are amendments to state constitutions. If there is a state a constitutional amendment, it makes the abortion laws in the code unconstitutional. As it sounds now, the legislation would just create a contradiction in the code,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins has created his own version of a personhood bill that he’s shopped around to a few legislators, with no takers yet.
“I’ve drafted a bill that removes the exceptions, that removes all abortion regulations. Then it becomes murder just like any other killing of a human being,” he said.
Cleveland said, “Basically what you have is, again, legislators who are anti-choice zealots paying lip service to their political supporters.”
Would this law mean that it’s no longer illegal in Texas to kill an adult who has an identical twin, since it doesn’t end the human life that began when their egg started its first division?
Is an adult a human life?
Then it’s illegal.
The definition states life begins, not A life begins.
NARAL knows exactly what it would mean. Abortion illegal. Abortion pill illegal. Contraception legal (of course, contraception = before conception). Morning after pill legal. In vitro doctors would only be allowed to fertilize the maximum number of eggs a patient would be willing to have implanted. Embryo stem cell research illegal. Prenatal care not mandatory, just as doctor visits aren’t mandatory for children. Prenatal negligence or abuse with drugs and/or alcohol and/or malnutrition possibly prosecutory with evidence turned in by medical provider just as a medical provider is to alert authorities on suspicion of the same with a child.
An unborn human already has rights such as inheritance rights. An unborn human already has protections such as those from malpractice from a medical provider. What most people don’t realize is that we have been living with this contradiction ever since Roe.
A definition such as this would solve that contradiction in our laws.
Enjoy your blog )