Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law Wednesday that would prohibit abortions as early as six weeks and allow nearly any private citizen the right to sue abortion providers.
“Our creator endowed us with the right to life and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion,” Abbott said. “[The Texas Legislature] worked together on a bipartisan basis to pass a bill that I’m about to sign that ensures that the life of every unborn child who has a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion.”
The bill bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat has been detected, including cases where the woman was impregnated as a result of rape or incest. There is an exception for some medical emergencies.
Texas’ heartbeat bill is similar to other states’ bills that have held up in court, but this bill has a different element included. The bill gives private citizens, not the government, the ability to enforce the law. Texans can sue abortion providers or anyone who aids someone in getting an abortion. The citizen would not have to be connected to the provider or the individual getting an abortion in order to sue.
Supporters of the bill believe this is the first of many steps that needs to be taken in order to abolish abortions.
“Texas Right to Life reminds our elected officials of their solemn duty to protect the lives of their citizens, especially the most vulnerable and innocent Texans in the womb. The signing of the Texas Heartbeat Act marks a historic step in the battle to protect Life,” said the organization.
However, abortion rights advocates have already said they are gearing up to challenge the new law. According to these advocates, the six-week cutoff is too extreme, as many women do not know they are even pregnant by that time. This law would be one of the most extreme abortion laws in the U.S. and the strictist in Texas since Roe v. Wade.
Texas’ law follows a historic week for abortiion laws. Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court said it would consider a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks. The Court’s decision could potentially overturn the Roe v. Wade decision.
The Texas law takes effect in September.