Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday signed a bill banning abortions in the state of Texas after a baby’s heartbeat is detected, roughly after six weeks of gestation.
“Our creators endowed us with the right to life. And yet, millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion,” Abbott said at the bill-signing ceremony in Austin.
The bill “ensures that the life of every unborn child who has a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion,” he said.
Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, introduced the bill, SB 8, which passed the state Senate by a vote of 18-12 and the House by a vote of 83-64.
Texas, which has laws on the books criminalizing abortion unless the mother’s life is in danger, maintains that it has never repealed these laws that were enacted before the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion nationwide.
The new law, effective Sept. 1, prohibits a doctor from performing or inducing an abortion unless they first determine if the fetus’ heartbeat can be detected. If a heartbeat is detected, an abortion can only be performed in a medical emergency.
The constitutionality of similar laws across the country have been challenged in the courts.
Unlike other states’ heartbeat bills, the Texas law allows private citizens – and not solely Texas residents – to sue doctors, clinics, and anyone assisting with the abortion who violate the law. Those prohibited from suing are men who commit rape or incest of the impregnated mother.
Democratic lawmakers opposed the bill, arguing abortion is a constitutionally protected right and an extension of women’s health care.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas also opposed the bill, arguing, “If this law stands, it would outright ban abortion in the state at six weeks gestation – before many Texans even know they are pregnant.”
Planned Parenthood Texas Votes said the law is one of the most extreme abortion bans in the country.
Texas Right to Life and Human Coalition Action Texas praised Abbott and the state Legislature for passing the bill.
“The Texas Heartbeat Act is the most powerful pro-life legislation in Texas history and will stand as a model for the country,” Hughes said.
This article was originally posted on Abbott signs heartbeat bill into law