“Security concerns” come after GOP chair won’t pass bill criminalizing abortions

State Representative Jeff Leach

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Chairman of the Texas House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence, Plano Republican Jeff Leach, tells KXAN he will not allow an anti-abortion bill to pass the committee because he won’t support a law subjecting her “to the death penalty.” 

“I cannot get to a point where I could support criminalizing a woman, who has an abortion and possibly subjecting her to the death penalty,” said Chairman Leach, “I think that’s the wrong direction for our state and that’s the wrong direction for the pro-life movement.”

After his announcement, authorities in North Texas say they’re taking action following social media posts. Leach confirmed Thursday the Collin County sheriff’s office was monitoring his home but did not comment any further. 

Sgt. Nick Bristow of the Collin County sheriff’s office says they’re “taking steps to address” the social media posts but wouldn’t elaborate.

Chairman Leach held a public hearing on HB 896 by Rep.Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, earlier this week but the bill must pass committee to move to the full House in order to eventually become law. 

HB 896 states a living human child “from the moment of fertilization on fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum” is entitled to the same rights, powers, and privileges “granted to any other human child.” It then directs the Texas Attorney General to enforce the measure “regardless of any contrary federal law, executive order, or court decision.”

“Some think we should exempt mothers, but that would inherently treat unborn children differently than other people who are murdered,” Rep. Tinderholt wrote KXAN,”We also have protections for women in the case of a medical emergency or if they are coerced or under duress. None of those instances would result in any penalties whatsoever.”

Rep. Tinderholt released a video on Facebook and wrote a commentary stating he will not be criticizing Leach for his decision to bottle-up the bill. 

“I have not called out the motives of any of my Republican colleagues for their concerns on this bill,” wrote Tinderholt, “Jeff had these concerns and still had the committee hearing. It was a historic night. I appreciate his willingness to raise the issue publicly in Texas for the first time.”

While describing himself as “consistently pro-life” himself, he is the author of a bill that requires doctors to care for a baby who survives an abortion procedure. 

“I’m going to be on the front lines of that fight. I just believe this bill took us in the wrong direction,” said Leach.

However, this is the second time Texas authorities have stepped in following the failure of bills pushed by conservative advocates. Last week, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen said a gun-rights advocate drove to his family residence and was met by state troopers.

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