New Texas law allows civil lawsuits for abortions performed after detection of heartbeat

AUSTIN, Texas (KXII) — This week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law the Heartbeat Bill, called one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.

Instead of allowing the state to sue a provider who performs an abortion after a detectable heartbeat, like the law recently signed in Oklahoma, it would allow people to sue them in civil court.

Texas Senate Bill 8 states that anyone who is not a state or government employee can sue an abortion provider or anyone who helped in the process.

“What happened in there was a real desire to save children. A firm belief that life begins at conception and that life is precious,”

Texas State Rep. Reggie Smith co-authored Senate Bill 8, known as the Heartbeat Bill.

State statistics count over 50,000 abortions in 2020, that’s more than the population of the city of Sherman.

“We care about the lives of these children and we care about what these children will become when they grow up. Who are these people who are being killed by abortion,” Smith said.

The law allows anyone to sue providers who perform an abortion after a heartbeat, or anyone who helps a woman in the process.

This includes paying for an abortion or driving a woman to the clinic.

The only exception is a medical emergency.

Heartbeat detection can occur as early as the sixth week of pregnancy, which is before many women know they are pregnant.

“This puts women at higher risk. This makes essential and timely health care even more out of reach for them,” said Autumn Williams Keizer of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas.

She said it creates huge barriers for women wanting an abortion, which leads to desperation, like driving out of state or trying other ways that aren’t medically guided.

“Ultimately, an abortion ban does not stop abortions. It just makes it harder to access a safe and legal abortion,” Williams Keizer said.

The law does not provide exemptions for victims of rape or incest.

Smith says prosecutors should do everything to convict such criminals, but says another life is also at stake.

“What the argument is and what I believe is that this child didn’t ask for this and this child has a right to experience life,” Smith said.

Williams Keizer says the law is concerning and upsetting.

“This is one of the most extreme abortion restriction laws we have ever seen in the country,” she said.

Pending possible legal challenges, the law is expected to come into force on September 1.

This would allow people who file complaints to seek up to $10,000 per defendant.

Until then, abortions after detection of a fetal heartbeat are still legal in Texas.

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