The drummed-up outrage over Texas’s new heartbeat law does not match the views of most Texans.
The Houston Chronicle reports a new poll from the University of Houston/Texas Southern University found a solid 55 percent of Texas residents support the life-saving legislation – in spite of the massive negative publicity, misinformation campaigns and international condemnation.
According to the October poll, 55 percent of Texans support the law, while 46 percent oppose it. Interestingly, 23 percent said they believe abortions should be allowed only in cases of rape, incest or threats to the mother’s life; however, three-fourths of those people also said they support the heartbeat law even though it only allows exceptions when the mother’s life is at risk, the Chronicle reports.
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Broken down by racial groups, support for the pro-life law was strongest among Latino residents (58 percent), compared to white residents (55 percent) and black residents (47 percent). Additionally, 59 percent of men and 52 percent of women said they support the law.
The sharpest divide was between Republicans and Democrats, with 74 percent and 38 percent supportive, respectively. A majority of independent voters (55 percent) also support the law.
The law, which went into effect Sept. 1, prohibits abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy.
State pro-life leaders say the law is saving as many as 100 babies from abortion every day and has the potential to save tens of thousands more. In 2020, about 54,000 unborn babies were aborted in Texas, and about 85 percent happened after six weeks of pregnancy, according to state health statistics.
The new poll suggests the outrage over the new law is not as massive as many are making it out to be.
Here’s more from the report:
While Democrats have said the anti-abortion law is unpopular and predicted that it will help fuel gains for their party during the 2022 midterm elections, the survey results signal a different reality, said Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University and one of the researchers for the poll.
“What we’re seeing is that it’s probably not as damaging an issue for Republicans as it’s sometimes portrayed,” Jones said. “There’s a group of Texans that wants to see an exception for rape and incest, but if they can’t get that, they still are going to support the legislation.”
The new poll is not the first to show support for heartbeat legislation.
A recent Saint Louis University/YouGov poll found 56 percent of Missourians agree that the state should prohibit abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable after eight weeks of pregnancy, including 57 percent of women. Similarly, an April poll by the University of Texas-Austin found that Texans support a six-week abortion ban. According to the poll, 49 percent support making abortions illegal after six weeks of pregnancy, while 41 percent oppose it.
A national 2019 Hill/HarrisX poll also 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.
Texas is the first state to be allowed to enforce a heartbeat law, but pro-abortion groups have filed multiple lawsuits and they are on-going. The U.S. Supreme Court just agreed to hear a challenge from the Biden administration on Nov. 1.
While abortion activists say some women are traveling to other states for abortions, they admit that others are having their babies instead. Meanwhile, pro-life advocates are reaching out to pregnant women across Texas with compassion and understanding, offering resources and emotional support to help them and their babies. Earlier this year, state lawmakers increased support for pregnant and parenting mothers and babies, ensuring that they have resources to choose life for their babies.
About a dozen states have passed heartbeat laws to protect unborn babies from abortion, but Texas is the first to be allowed to enforce its law. Whether the law will remain in effect or ultimately be upheld as constitutional in court remains uncertain, but pro-life leaders are hopeful now that the Supreme Court has a conservative majority.