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Texas bill will ban abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat can be detected

Mary Margaret Olohan, DCNF

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott indicated Thursday that he will sign a heartbeat abortion bill banning abortions after the unborn baby has reached six weeks gestation.

Texas’ Heartbeat Act passed the state’s Senate Thursday. Abbott highlighted the bill’s passage in a tweet that noted the bill was “on its way to my desk for signing.” The governor also thanked Republican state lawmakers Bryan Hughes and Shelby Slawson for their leadership in introducing the legislation.

Democratic lawmakers and abortion advocates have fought hard against the legislation, arguing that an unborn baby has a heartbeat as early as six weeks, when many women do not know they are pregnant. By the end of the fourth week of pregnancy, according to the Cleveland Clinic, the unborn baby’s tiny heart tube will beat about 65 times a minute, and the baby’s heartbeat can be detected by about six weeks.

Democratic State Rep. Donna Howard called the bill a “violation of constitutional rights to abortion” and a “disaster for our legal and medical systems.”

We may not agree on the issue of abortion, but we should all be able to agree that #SB8 invites out-of-state extremists to use our legal system to harass doctors and healthcare providers who are simply doing their job within the letter of the law,” Howard said in an early May tweet. 

The bill, which makes exceptions for medical emergencies but not in cases of rape or incest, gives private citizens both in and out of Texas the power to sue abortion clinics or individuals who help women obtain abortions, according to the Texas Tribune. This may make the bill more difficult to challenge in court, the publication noted.

“The Texas Heartbeat Act is the strongest Pro-Life bill passed by the Legislature since Roe v. Wade and will save thousands of lives,” Texas Right to Life Senior Legislative Associate Rebecca Parma said in a statement provided to the Daily Caller News Foundation. “This is a historic day and now is the time to build on our momentum.”

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