Physicians in Texas who violate a new state abortion-related law (SB 419) should not be charged under the state penal code that carries a maximum charge of the death penalty, Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) said in a legal opinion issued Wednesday. Because Texas defines a fetus as an individual under law, some criminal defense attorneys had questioned whether doctors who illegally perform third-trimester abortions or abortions without parental consent would actually be subject to the ultimately legal penalty. The attorneys had argued that such abortions could be characterized as killing a child under six, a death-penalty offense in the state. Instead, the Attorney General said that the violations should instead be interpreted as violations of the medical occupations code, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years and a $10,000 fine However, it's important to note that the Attorney General's opinion is non-binding, so prosecutors can still file capital charges if they wish.
To learn about the death penalty reasoning:
- read this piece from the The Dallas Morning News