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August 30, 2005

The death penalty for doctors?

This AP report from Texas (where else?) indicates that a group of Texas prosecutors believe that "Texas doctors who perform abortions without parental approval or after the third trimester could face capital murder charges because of a new law that takes effect this week."  Here are some more details from the article:

The Texas District and County Attorneys Association has outlined that scenario in its new book updating the Texas penal code and in public presentations around the state. The group says such charges could occur under the new law because of the 2003 fetal protection law.

Key legislators said Monday that wasn't their intent....  [A] doctor performing a prohibited abortion could be accused of capital murder because the capital murder law covers the death of a child under age 6, according to the prosecutors association.

"I think it's a little bit of a stretch," said Elizabeth Graham, director of Texas Right To Life. "The legislative intent clearly was not to incarcerate doctors or execute doctors who are performing abortions, illegal or otherwise." The chances are "very slim" that a district attorney would try such prosecution, she said. Sarah Wheat, executive director of NARAL Pro-choice Texas, said it can't be ruled out. "I think, when it comes to this issue, there is always someone who is looking for a political win," Wheat said.

August 30, 2005 at 07:53 AM | Permalink


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Welcome to my world, Doc! These guys just pick and choose what laws to enforce and how to enforce them at their whimsy. Given an inch by the law? Take ten miles. Don't like what a law says? Interpret it to mean the opposite. (See http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/front/3330553 ) You've got to hand it to my good buddies at TDCAA -- their boldness of vision is breathtaking.

Posted by: Scott | Aug 30, 2005 1:12:13 PM

In Texas, a prosecutor will now determine whether the doctor's decision to save the life of your (wife, mother, daughter or sister) was correct. It sounds to me like the doctor now has a classic conflict of interest. Self preservation vs. Patient preservation.

Posted by: Stanley Feldman | Aug 30, 2005 5:56:03 PM

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