AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott, surrounded by members of the Texas Legislature, signed into law Wednesday morning one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.
The signing of Senate Bill 8, or the Texas heartbeat bill, ensures Texas will be at the center of the new legal challenges to Roe v. Wade. It’s supposed to take effect in September.
The law prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, and while the bill doesn’t specify a timeframe, fetal heartbeats can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. In many instances, women don’t even know they are pregnant at that time. It also allows anyone to sue a doctor who performs or assists in an abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
The bill makes an exception in cases of medical emergencies, but not for rape or incest.
Abbott signed the law to loud cheers from the bill’s 91 sponsors. Abbott called the bill bipartisan, but 90 of those co-sponsors are Republicans with the lone Democrat being Sen. Eddie Lucio. Lucio and Rep. Ryan Guillen were the only two Democrats to vote for the bill.
“Millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion,” Abbott said. “In Texas, we work to save those lives.”
The bill passed through the Texas Senate 18-12 with one senator abstaining. It passed on third vote in the Texas House 83-64 with two Democrats abstaining. Every Republican lawmaker voted for the bill.
Abortion advocates call the bill one of the most extreme restrictions nationwide. Diana Gomez, the advocacy manager for Progress Texas, said it’s unconstitutional.
“Let me be clear: Abortion is health care and it is still legal in Texas,” Gomez said. “This six-week abortion ban is unconstitutional and others like it have been struck down by federal courts across the nation.
“Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land and regardless of whatever bill Gov. Abbott signs, no law will stop abortions from happening. It’s unfortunate that anti-abortion politicians were more focused on restricting access to essential medical care this session than providing COVID relief and tackling our failed power grid.”
Author: Billy Gates
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin