Near-Complete Abortion Ban Signed Into Law In Texas
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed into law one of the most restrictive abortion measures in the US, banning the procedure almost entirely.
The new law, signed on Wednesday, May 19, prevents abortions from taking place after six weeks, but as many women do not even know they are pregnant at this stage, it essentially amounts to an outright ban.
Dubbed the ‘heartbeat law’, the bill makes it so that abortion is illegal from the moment a fetal heartbeat is detected, and makes no exception for pregnancies caused by rape or incest. It is set to take effect in September, with Texas now the largest state in the US to outlaw abortion so early in a pregnancy.
As well as putting restrictions on those looking to receive an abortion, the so-called ‘heartbeat law’ allows private citizens to take legal action against any doctor or abortion clinic employee who performs or helps to arrange the procedure for a person in need.
These lawsuits may make it more difficult for those who provide abortion to fight the law, with Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, describing the bill as unconstitutional and saying it will put abortion providers through ‘more legal chutes and ladders until we can figure out a strategy to try to block it’, NPR reports.
Abbott, surrounded by lawmakers, alluded to religious beliefs when he signed the bill, saying, ‘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. And that’s exactly what the Texas Legislature did this session.’
The bill has received support from those who are anti-abortion, but critics such as the Center for Reproductive Rights have slammed the measure, describing it as ‘draconian’.
In a statement responding to Abbott’s actions, Elisabeth Smith, the centre’s chief counsel of state policy and advocacy, said:
Texas is inviting anti-abortion protestors to police abortion clinics and harass providers, even though the state knows that these kind of bans are unconstitutional. The goal of this law is to saddle doctors and clinics with so many lawsuits that they have no resources left to stay open.
Planned Parenthood Texas Votes and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund also hit back at the measure, branding it ‘dangerous’ and among the ‘harshest abortion bans in the country’.
Until the law comes into effect, Texas will continue with its current measures, which ban abortion after 20 weeks.
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