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Texas Joins Growing Number of States Passing Heartbeat Bills

The Texas Capitol Building in Austin, Texas
The Texas Capitol Building in Austin, Texas /Getty Images
• May 19, 2021 4:45 pm

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Texas governor Greg Abbott (R.) signed a bill banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, making Texas the latest in a growing number of Republican-controlled states cracking down on abortions.

The new law, set to take effect in September, bans abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The legislation differs from other "heartbeat" bills by allowing private citizens to sue abortion providers if they believe the provider violated the ban. The only exception to the ban is an abortion performed in a medical emergency.

"Our creator endowed us with the right to life, and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion. In Texas, we work to save those lives," Abbott said at the bill signing.

The bill comes after one of the largest cities in the state passed an ordinance declaring itself a "sanctuary city for the unborn." Lubbock, a city of more than 250,000 people in northwest Texas, joined more than two dozen towns in adopting policies that will automatically outlaw abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

The Court has signaled its willingness to reconsider the constitutionality of abortion after months of pressure from pro-life activists. The Court on Monday agreed to hear a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks. The case represents the most significant abortion-related case the Court has agreed to hear in decades. The Court's conservative majority has provided hope for pro-life advocates that the Supreme Court will reevaluate restrictions on abortion.

The High Court's decision on the Mississippi law is likely to come toward the middle of 2022 after oral arguments later this year.

Several other Republican states have passed similar heartbeat bills only to have the laws immediately challenged in court. Arkansas, South Carolina, and Montana are among the states taking swift action to ban most or all abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat.

Published under: Abortion, pro-life