Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 7, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

BARBARISM IN TEXAS....This story is almost too horrible for words. The details are a little thin, but here's the outline.

In 2003, Texas passed an anti-abortion law that instituted a 24-hour waiting period; required doctors to show women pictures of fetuses, tell them about adoption procedures, and warn them that an abortion could lead to breast cancer; and forced abortion providers to keep the identities of all their patients in their records. Plus one more thing, as the Fort Worth Weekly reported at the time:

The bill as passed also includes another requirement that managed to escape the floodlights of controversy and debate: Abortions from 16 weeks onward now can be performed only in hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers.

The clause is a major Catch-22. Very few Texas hospitals perform elective abortions, and the few that do charge extremely high fees and require that the patients go through complicated ethics reviews. And of the state's hundreds of surgical centers, none performs abortions.

So, with no place to get an abortion after 16 weeks, what does a panicky, 17-year-old girl do if she's four months pregnant? Erica Basoria decided to try to induce a miscarriage. When that didn't work, she asked her boyfriend to step on her stomach. A week later she miscarried.

This is all bad enough, but what comes next is fantastically worse: Texas also has a shiny new law criminalizing "fetal murder," and the fact that Basoria wanted a miscarriage in this case doesn't matter. Her boyfriend, Gerardo Flores of Lufkin, has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for his part in this tragic comic opera:

Flores' mother, Norma Flores, stood in stunned silence, surrounded by family members for several minutes after her son was led away by Sheriff Kent Henson.

Under state law, a woman cannot be charged for causing the deaths of her own fetuses for any reason.

....[Prosecutor Art] Bauereiss told jurors he was focused on Flores. He couldn't help that Basoria was outside the reach of the law, he said. If the babies had been killed after being born, it wouldn't have been so controversial, he said. "Think what a horrible crime this would be, he said. "We wouldn't hesitate to label it for what it is."

....Prosecutors chose not to pursue the death penalty against Flores, meaning he received an automatic life sentence with parole possible after 40 years.

This is the intersection of stupid kids, stupid laws, mendacious legislators, and fanatical prosecutors. It's what happens when states ban access to otherwise legal abortions and kids don't know where to turn. And if circumstances and the law had been slightly different, Bauereiss probably would have prosecuted Erica Basoria too and sought the death penalty for both.

It's like living under the Ayatollahs in Iran. It's simple barbarism.

Kevin Drum 2:12 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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