A bill introduced in Texas that would extend criminal and civil penalties to anyone who injures a fetus appears to be an attempt to restrict abortion rights in the state. The Prenatal Protection Act would allow pregnant women to file wrongful death lawsuits and allow prosecutors to press charges when an unborn child is killed in an accident or violent attack, according to State Rep. Ray Allen, who introduced the bill in the Texas legislature last week.
“This is the centerpiece of the anti-abortion agenda to chip away at a woman’s right to choose abortion,” Kae McLaughlin, executive director of the Texas Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, told the Houston Chronicle. The bill also could jeopardize physicians who operate on pregnant women, McLaughlin noted.
Currently, 37 states have laws that allow wrongful death lawsuits for the death of fetuses while 26 states consider the killing of a fetus a form of homicide, according to Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report.
On the federal level, the Bush administration has made similar efforts to restrict abortion rights by granting legal and moral rights to fetuses. In September, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a regulation that defines human fetuses and embryos as children and allows states to extend health care benefits to fetuses rather than pregnant women through the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP).