Texas Governor Greg Abbott Signs Bill to Ban Abortions When Unborn Baby’s Heartbeat Begins

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 19, 2021   |   11:49AM   |   Austin, Texas

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a bill to ban abortions once an unborn baby’s heart begins beating.

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.

Abbot said the bill, “… ensures that the life of every unborn child who has a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion.”

In an interview with KXXV 25 News, Abbott recently said he supports the bill because he wants to make life better for every person in Texas, including children in the womb.

“We’re addressing every issue in the entire state that will make lives better for everybody, including innocent, unborn children,” the governor said. “What this bill seeks to do is once a heartbeat is detected in a mother’s womb, at that time it would be inappropriate to take the life of that baby. Texas has taken a position that innocent life is so important.”

Texas Right to Life thanked Governor Abbott for signing the bill.

“When the Texas Heartbeat Act takes effect on September 1, all elective abortions after the preborn child’s heartbeat is detectable will be prohibited. A preborn child’s heartbeat can be detected using methods according to the standard medical practice as early as six weeks’ gestation. This measure will save thousands of lives and is a vital step in the road to abolishing all abortions in Texas,” it told LifeNews. “Texas Right to Life applauds this landmark victory and notes that countless children, women, and hospitalized patients are still threatened by abortion and euthanasia in Texas. The work of protecting Life in Texas is not finished. The abortion industry continues to threaten vulnerable preborn children with discriminatory and early abortions. :

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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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.

Pro-life leaders believe the private lawsuit provision, which is similar to language in the Sanctuary for the Unborn ordinances that are passing at the city level, is more likely to withstand a legal challenge and save babies’ lives.

The pro-abortion blog Jezebel reports more about abortion activists’ worries:

The Center for Reproductive Rights’s chief counsel for state policy Elisabeth Smith told Jezebel reporter Esther Wang that “this private right of action… would allow harassment and intimidation of providers, people who work in clinics, family members, and friends.”

Abortion rights advocates worry that the passage of this legislation in Texas will have implications for abortion rights battles across the country, as the anti-abortion movement in the state has historically been influential in introducing abortion restrictions that get picked up in other states.

“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.

Pro-abortion groups likely will challenge the Texas Heartbeat Act in court, but they are particularly worried about a unique section of the legislation.

According to CBS Austin, the bill gives “people the right to sue or file civil litigation against physicians who perform” abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable. Exceptions in the bill prohibit perpetrators of rape and incest from filing lawsuits.

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.

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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.