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Tipsheet

Texas 'Heartbeat Bill' Banning Abortions After Fetal Heartbeat Detection Goes into Effect

AP Photo/Steve Helber

Legislation that protects the unborn by prohibiting abortion procedures after a fetal heartbeat is detected, known as the “heartbeat bill,” has become the law of the land in Texas after the United States Supreme Court kept mum despite requests from pro-abortion groups for the Court to block the law before it took effect.

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The law, which was passed and subsequently signed by Gov. Greg Abbott on May 19, does not offer exceptions for women who become pregnant from incest or rape. The law bans abortions at approximately six weeks, as that is the general time frame when fetal heartbeat becomes detectable. This makes Texas’ new law one of the strictest statewide abortion laws in the country.

Additionally, the measure allows private citizens to pursue legal action against anyone who provides an abortion, helps someone access an abortion, or clinical staff who assist an abortion after the six-week threshold. There is one exception in the bill that allows for abortions later in pregnancy, strictly for “medical emergencies.”

In a filing with the Supreme Court, Texas officials responded to an emergency appeal requested by abortion providers and advocacy groups. Texas officials described their claims as “hyperbolic” and said “they have not shown that they will be personally harmed by a bill that may never be enforced against them by anyone.”

Pro-abortion advocates claim the bill takes aim at the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, jeopardizing their ability to carry out abortions nationwide. Critics of the law also say that women will seek late-term abortions out-of-state due to the strict legislation. Planned Parenthood, specifically, claimed that 85% of abortions occur in Texas after six weeks — meaning a significant majority of lives taken by Planned Parenthood abortions in Texas will no longer be permitted.

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The Left's reaction has been apoplectic.

Confusingly, Missouri Democrat Rep. Cori Bush tweeted her worries for "queer...folks" who she thinks will be "disproportionately harm[ed]" by the heartbeat law.

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Pro-life proponents of the bill heralded the victory.

An abortion-centered Supreme Court case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is supposed to be heard by the high court this fall. Dobbs could change the course of abortion access nationwide, potentially overturning previous Court-enacted policies like Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. As many states, like Texas, have taken action to implement restrictions on abortion, it could be historic to see how Dobbs unfolds.

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