On Wednesday, the Texas House passed a bill banning abortion as early as six weeks, before most people know they are pregnant. The Senate has already passed a similar version, and differences will be negotiated before the bill will go to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk.
The bill is a “heartbeat bill,” meaning it aims to ban abortion at the point of first detection of embryonic “heartbeat,” even though the embryo is not yet a fetus and does not have a heart. Dozens of other states have passed similar bills, which mostly have been blocked by federal courts.
What makes this bill unique is the inclusion of a provision that prohibits state officials from enforcing the ban and instead allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and seek financial damages.
Medical groups have expressed opposition to this anti-abortion bill. “Regardless of our personal beliefs about abortion, as licensed phsycians in Texas, we implore you to not weaponie the judicial branch against us to make a political point,” a group of 200 doctors wrote to Hose leadership this week.
If it becomes law, the measure will likely be challenged by reproductive rights groups. Proponents of heartbeat bills are hoping that a legal challenge will eventually reach the Supreme Court and overturn Roe v. Wade.
“This bill is about nothing more than politics and is fueled by extremist efforts to ban abortion outright,” Planned Parenthood said in a statement. “Planned Parenthood will do everything it can to protect its patients. This fight does not end here.”
Sources: Washington Post 5/5/21; Texas Tribune 5/5/21