The state of Texas (United States) has passed legislation that will restrict abortions. Illustrative image | Photo: Maria Oswalt / Unsplash
The governor of the US state of Texas, Greg Abbott, on Wednesday (19) signed a law banning abortion after the fetal heartbeat can already be detected, which can occur from the sixth week of pregnancy.
“This law ensures that the lives of all unborn children who have a heartbeat will be saved from the devastation of abortion,” the Republican governor said on Twitter.
The law provides exceptions for certain medical emergencies, but not for cases where the woman has become pregnant as a result of rape or incest. In addition, it gives any citizen the power to sue abortion clinics or people who help women get abortions, according to the Texas Tribune. The legislation will come into force in September.
The pro-abortion movement in the country has criticized the legislation, arguing that unborn babies already have a heartbeat while many women still do not know they are pregnant. Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Alexis McGill Johnson said on Twitter that “access to abortion has never been more threatened – and we will fight hard.”
Senate Bill 8 (SB8) was passed by both houses of the Texas Legislature, with a Republican majority. Other states in the United States have already passed similar legislation, which is not yet in place due to legal challenges. The difference with the Texas law is that it is the first to exempt officials from enforcing the ban, allowing any citizen, of Texas or another U.S. state, to sue clinics or individuals who facilitate the conduct of abortions. This aspect makes the Texas law more difficult to block by the courts, experts told the American press.
“This is a very unique and very intelligent law,” Josh Blackman, professor of constitutional law at the South Texas College of Law Houston, told the Texas Tribune. “Planned Parenthood can’t go to court and sue the Attorney General, as they normally would, because he has no role in law enforcement. They basically have to sit and wait to be sued.”
The pro-life organization Texas Right to Life celebrated the passage of the law as the most “historic” anti-abortion measure in recent memory. “We will closely monitor whether the abortion industry will comply with this law. If not, it must prepare for civil liability,” said John Seago, the group’s legislative director.