New Texas Abortion Bill Would Force Doctors to Save Living Fetuses or Face Fines: 'Texans Stand United for Life'

Bills introduced in Texas this week could mean doctors will be fined $100,000 if they don't try to give medical treatment to a fetus born alive following an abortion.

Known as the Texas Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, the motion was filed on Thursday by Rep. Jeff Leach and co-authored by senator Lois Kolkhorst, both Republicans. It comes in the wake of similar legislation failing to pass in the Senate last month after being blocked by Democrats.

The filing suggested a "physician-patient relationship" would be established between a fetus born alive after a late-term abortion and the doctor who performed the procedure.

It says that medical professionals "must exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious physician would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age."

The consequences of not doing so should be financial, Leach proposed.

"A physician who [fails] to provide appropriate medical treatment to a child born alive after an abortion is liable to the state for a civil penalty of not less than $100,000," the filing stated, adding that the attorney general would bring legal action to collect the penalty from the doctor.

The proposals would allow for a parent or legal guardian to sue a doctor if the doctor fails to provide adequate care to the newborn. Touting built-in protections, politicians said women seeking abortions would still be "shielded from liability in accordance with existing state law."

The Austin American-Statesman newspaper reported that the Born-Alive Act consisted of two separate bill proposals: House Bill 16 from Leach and Senate Bill 23 from Kolkhorst.

The Associated Press reported in February that an infant being born alive following a late-term abortion was "extremely unusual." Citing abortion rights group the Guttmacher Institute, the Associated Press reported that just 1 percent of abortions take place after 21 weeks of pregnancy.

The Texas proposal softened language from last month's Republican Senate bill, which suggested that doctors face jail for failing to save infants' lives. Democrats rejected the bill while noting that it could be an attempt to dissuade late-term abortions from taking place.

Yesterday, Rep. Leach fumed against opposition to prior bills. He said in a media release: "The collective conscience of our nation has been shocked in recent weeks as we have witnessed elected policymakers advocate for and support measures that equate to legalized infanticide. Texans… reject this callous disregard for human life, and we cannot and will not remain silent."

He continued: "The Texas Legislature will draw a line in the sand, proclaiming clearly and loudly, on behalf of the Texans we represent, that a baby who survives an abortion deserves the full protection of the law and the highest standards of medical care." Texas Governor Greg Abbott branded Kolkhorst and Leach "pro-life champions" and railed against what he called a "growing support for infanticide."

As reported by The Dallas Morning News this week, Kolkhorst said she hoped supporters of the proposed legislation would be able to bring it into state law. "Where D.C. is unclear, we're going to be very clear here in Texas. This is about saving the life of infants," she said. On her Facebook page yesterday, Kolkhorst also proclaimed, "Texans stand united for LIFE!"