The Texas state legislature passed a bill Thursday ban abortions once an unborn baby’s heart begins beating.
After the House approved the pro-life measure earlier this month on a 83-64 vote, the Senate voted today 18-12 to pass it. The bill now goes to pro-life Governor Greg Abbott, who will sign it into law.
When signed into law, the Texas Heartbeat Act will abolish elective abortions as early as six weeks, when the preborn child’s heartbeat is detectable using methods according to standard medical practice. The policy would take effect on September 1, 2021.
During debate on the bill one of the lead sponsors shared her own personal story. Rep. Shelby Slawson (R-Stephenville) said doctors told her mother she had medical problems and advised her to get an abortion.
“The complications and those dire prognosis continued, the back-and-forth to the doctor continued, and that heartbeat continued,” Slawson said. “And then one Tuesday in May, that new mom greeted her newborn. This surprisingly normal baby, marveling at 10 fingers and 10 toes and wisps of red hair.”
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Texas Right to Life Senior Legislative Associate Rebecca Parma told LifeNews.com she was delighted by the vote.
“The Texas Heartbeat Act is the strongest Pro-Life bill passed by the Legislature since Roe v. Wade and will save thousands of lives. This is a historic day and now is the time to build on our momentum. State lawmakers must use the remaining weeks of session to pass additional life-saving legislation like the Texas Abolition Strategy and the Respecting Texas Patients’ Right to Life Act,” she said.
“The Texas Heartbeat Act is novel in approach, allowing for citizens to hold abortionists accountable through private lawsuits. No heartbeat law passed by another state has taken this strategy. Additionally, the bill does not punish women who obtain abortions,” she added.
Sponsored as well by state Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, the bill would require abortionists to check for an unborn baby’s heartbeat and prohibit the abortion if it is detected. It would create criminal penalties for abortionists who violate the measure.
“This bill says for the little baby inside her mother’s womb, if there is a heartbeat detected, that little baby will be protected,” Hughes said.
State Sen. Eddie Lucio, a pro-life Democrat who Planned Parenthood attacked with a racist campaign last year, defended the legislation against criticism from other Democrats, according to the Morning News.
When state Sen. Nathan Johnson, D-Dallas, slammed the bill as a “mockery,” Lucio responded: “For you to use the word mockery, it offends me… If anything, to stand for abortion really makes a mockery of the sanctity of life.”
However, a spokesperson from the ACLU of Texas hinted that they will sue if the bill becomes law. The pro-abortion legal group slammed the bill as an unconstitutional infringement on women’s rights and a violation of civil rights in the Texas Constitution.
The other pro-life legislation that passed Monday includes a bill to ban abortions completely if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, another to prohibit abortion drugs from being delivered by mail, legislation to prohibit local governments from funding abortions and abortion-related activities with taxpayer dollars, a bill to prohibit abortions for fetal anomalies after 20 weeks, another to require a third party to offer informed consent and resources to mothers seeking abortions, and a multi-action pro-life bill that would, among other life-saving measures, ban abortions after six weeks when an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable.
A number of states have passed heartbeat laws in recent years, but all have been banned from enforcing them due to legal challenges by abortion activist groups. States with heartbeat laws include Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio and Tennessee. South Carolina also passed a heartbeat law in February.
Americans support strong limits on abortion. A 2019 Hill-HarrisX survey found that 55 percent of voters said they do not think laws banning abortions after six weeks – when an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable – are too restrictive. Gallup polls also consistently have found that a majority of Americans think all or most abortions should be illegal.
Some pro-lifers have renewed hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold an abortion ban and overturn Roe v. Wade. Others, however, are hesitant because of concerns about losing the court battle and being forced to reimburse pro-abortion groups for their legal fees.
Though a majority of the justices are Republican appointees, Chief Justice John Roberts has sided with the liberal justices on a number of occasions.
In 1973, the Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion under Roe v. Wade, and instead forced states to legalize abortion on demand. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks.