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Texas pastor who backed bill criminalising abortion arrested

Southern Baptist pastor, Stephen Bratton arrested on charges of child sex abuse.

Monday, June 17, 2019

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HOUSTON (AP) — A former Southern Baptist pastor who supported legislation in Texas that would have criminalised abortions has been arrested on charges of child sex abuse.

Court records show that Stephen Bratton posted a US$50,000 bond last Saturday. The Houston Chronicle reports that 43-year-old Bratton is accused of molesting a teenage relative, sometimes multiple times a day.

It isn't clear whether Bratton has an attorney. The Associated Press couldn't locate a phone number for him yesterday.

Bratton was a pastor at Grace Family Baptist Church near Houston. He was outspoken in support of a bill that would have abolished abortions in Texas and threatened charging women who undergo the procedure with homicide.

Aaron Wright, another pastor at the church, says Bratton has been excommunicated.

Christian fundamentalist Bratton had joined supporters of the bill, including Jim Baxa (president of West Texans for Life). Baxa, asserted, “a woman who has committed murder should be charged with murder.” And Bratton declared, “Whoever authorises or commits murder is guilty.”

Although Republicans have a majority in the Texas House, it isn't a huge majority. The GOP controls 83 seats of the 150 seats in the Texas House, while Democrats hold 67. And in the Texas State Senate (which has 31 seats altogether), Republicans exceed Democrats by seven seats.

The anti-abortion bill would, if passed, make it possible for women who receive abortions to be charged with homicide and receive the death penalty.

Introduced in 2017 by Texas State Rep Tony Tinderholt (a far-right Republican from Arlington), Texas House Bill 896 calls for total statewide criminalisation of abortion and is being pushed by the Christian right.

However, it has yet to come up for a vote, and even some of Tinderholt's fellow Republicans believe that it is going too far by calling for homicide charges for women who have abortions.

The Texas Alliance for Life, an anti-abortion group, has been outspoken against the bill, stressing that it would be struck down as unconstitutional if passed.

And, to be sure, the bill would be a violation of Roe v. Wade—the 1973 US Supreme Court decision that, in effect, legalized abortion in all 50 states.

However, the future of Roe v. Wade is in doubt, with President Donald Trump having added two far-right justices, first Neil Gorsuch in 2017, then Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, to the High Court.

The end of Roe v. Wade would not be a nationwide criminalisation of abortion, but it would allow individual states to pass statewide abortion bans.


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