The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, marking the end of abortion as a constitutional right. As anticipated, the legal landscape, as it pertains to abortion, has significantly changed nationwide. Some states have affirmed abortion rights within their borders while others, including Texas, have outlawed the medical procedure.
In anticipation of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling, Texas tightened its laws banning abortion. Those who aid in the facilitation of an abortion procedure, particularly doctors and medical staff, can face civil penalties and even criminal charges. Although Texas provides an exception for abortion when a mother’s life is at stake, the stringent guidelines that define such a scenario put health care providers at risk of criminal liability.
Performing an Abortion Is a First-Degree Felony in Texas
When a medical professional successfully performs an abortion – meaning, the fetus dies as a result of the procedure – they can face first-degree felony charges. The potential penalties one can face for these charges are similar to some of the most serious offenses in the state.
Medical professionals convicted of performing an abortion face five years to life in prison. This, however, doesn’t include any criminal fines or civil lawsuit judgments that can financially devastate an abortion care provider. A judge can impose fines of not less than $100,000 for each instance of abortion and requires the relevant licensing authority to revoke any physician or other health care provider’s license.
Attempting an Abortion Is a Second-Degree Felony in Texas
If someone is accused of attempting an abortion or inducing a patient to undergo an abortion, second-degree felony charges can follow. A conviction of abortion as a second-degree felony can result in a prison sentence of two to 20 years.
A person convicted of this offense also faces a minimum of a $100,000 fine for each instance as well as a mandatory revocation of their relevant licensing.
Pregnant Mothers Won’t Face Criminal Charges
As the laws currently stand in Texas, pregnant mothers won’t face criminal charges for seeking an abortion or successfully receiving one. The law in Texas is currently intended to target those who perform abortions, but there is a risk that it may be interpreted differently to include mothers who use special drugs intended to induce abortion or abort their pregnancies by other means.
As the legal landscape in a post-Roe v. Wade era evolves, only time will tell who may be accused of a crime for any matter involving abortion and what the potential consequences will be.
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