Texas Criminal Abortion Law
In light of a 2022 United States Supreme Court opinion, there is no longer the constitutional right to an abortion. As a result, states now have the ability to create their own abortion laws. Texas, a notoriously conservative state when it comes to abortion rights, passed a law that criminalizes abortion in 2021, perhaps in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s ruling. Under current law, those who perform an abortion risk severe penalties, including tremendous fines, professional sanctions, and even jail time. At Guest and Gray, our criminal defense attorneys aggressively defend medical professionals and others facing a violation of the Texas criminal abortion law.Is Abortion Illegal in Texas?
Yes, like many other states, Texas has made abortion illegal. Under the Texas criminal abortion law, it is illegal to knowingly perform, induce, or attempt an abortion. In fact, the statute specifically provides that the law “may not be construed to authorize the imposition of criminal, civil, or administrative liability or penalties on a pregnant female on whom an abortion” is performed. In this way, the Texas abortion law criminalizes the act of performing an abortion, but not the act of getting an abortion. The intent of the lawmakers appears to be to impose harsh criminal penalties on doctors and other medical professionals in hopes of discouraging them from performing the procedures. Whether this will work as lawmakers intended remains to be seen, however.
The Texas abortion law broadly criminalizes any abortion, regardless of the gestational age of the fetus. Additionally, the law does not contain an exception for rape or incest. In fact, there is one exception where it is legal to perform an abortion in Texas, and that is when the health of the mother is in jeopardy.
Meeting this exception, however, presents a significant burden. Under Texas Safety and Health Case § 170A.002, it is only legal to perform an abortion if each of the following is met:
- The person performing the abortion is a licensed physician;
- The pregnant woman “has a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy” that puts her at risk of death or serious injury unless the abortion is performed;
- The abortion is performed in a way that provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive unless that creates a greater risk to the mother.
Notably, the Texas criminal abortion law specifically precludes a doctor from taking the possibility of self-harm or suicide into account. In subsection (c), the statute provides that a physician cannot legally perform an abortion if “the risk of death or a substantial impairment of a major bodily function” to the mother “arose from a claim or diagnosis that the female would engage in conduct that might” cause her own injury or death.Punishments for Performing an Abortion in Texas
The Texas criminal abortion statute provides for extremely strict punishments for anyone convicted of performing, attempting to perform, or inducing a woman to undergo an abortion. More specifically, violating the Texas abortion law is a second-degree felony unless the fetus dies as a result of the procedure, in which case the crime becomes a first-degree felony.
In Texas, second-degree felonies are punishable by a term of imprisonment of at least two years, with a maximum of 20 years. A first-degree felony is punishable by at least five years in jail, with a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Additionally, under Texas Safety and Health Case § 170A.005, those who violate the Texas abortion law are subject to a fine of not less than $100,000 for each violation. Finally, the law requires the relevant licensing authority to “revoke the license, permit, registration, certificate, or other authority of a physician or other health care professional who performs, induces, or attempts an abortion.”Are You Facing Criminal Charges for Assisting in an Abortion?
If you face criminal charges as a result of you providing prohibited healthcare services under the Texas criminal abortion statute, Guest and Gray and help. At our Forney County criminal defense law firm, we aggressively defend clients facing serious felony charges, including abortion crimes. We have decades of experience providing clients with the defense they need, deserve, and are entitled to under the United State Constitution, and we zealously advocate on behalf of our clients at every stage of the process. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with a Forney criminal defense lawyer, give us a call at 972-564-4644 today. You can also reach us through our online form. We proudly represent clients in Dallas, Collin, Kaufman, Hunt and Rockwall Counties.