As Texas continued to move this week toward banning abortion after a preborn child’s heartbeat is detected, a new poll revealed that nearly half of Texas voters — and nearly three-quarters of Republicans — would support an abortion ban after six weeks of pregnancy.
The latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll surveyed 1200 registered voters between April 16 and April 22 on a number of major issues facing Texas legislature including the COVID-19 pandemic, gun laws, lobbying, police use of force, and abortion.
Although the poll revealed that 54% of Texans oppose automatically banning all abortions in Texas if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, about a third would support a ban. Roe v. Wade is the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that effectively legalized abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy in the United States.
Moreover, 49% of voters support making abortions illegal after six weeks except in the case of a medical emergency (read more here on why the deliberate killing of a preborn child is never truly medically necessary). That includes the support of 74% of Republicans, while 67% of Democrats oppose the idea, the Texas Tribune reports.
The poll also surveyed voters on current laws restricting abortion in Texas. According to the results, 33% would make them stricter, 33% would make them less strict, and 22% would leave them as they are.
Finally, giving anyone the right to sue abortion providers they believe have violated state law was supported by 44% of Texas voters polled and opposed by 37%.
The poll emerged just as Texas lawmakers gave initial approval on Wednesday of Senate Bill 8, a “heartbeat bill” that would ban abortions after detection of a preborn child’s heartbeat. The heartbeat begins between 16 and 22 days after fertilization and can be detected by ultrasound as early as six weeks into the pregnancy.
Authored by Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) and sponsored by Representative Shelby Slawson (R-Stephenville), the Texas Heartbeat Act also holds civilly liable any physician who performs or induces an abortion after a heartbeat is detected. The bill passed the House in an 83 to 64 vote on Thursday. According to KLTV, “The bill will now go back to the Senate for consideration for amendments. If those are accepted, it will go to the governor’s desk for signature.”
Texas Right to Life called the Act “the strongest pro-life bill to ever reach the Texas House floor.”
In introducing the bill on the House floor on Wednesday, Rep. Slawson opened with a personal story about her mother. She explained that when her mother was pregnant with her, she was told by doctors that the preborn baby would not develop normally and recommended abortion. Her mother chose to carry the baby to term.
“And now, 44 years and two days later, that little baby girl is standing in this chamber — her heart beating as strongly and as rapidly as it did all those years ago — as she lays outs before you Senate Bill 8, the Texas Heartbeat Act,” Rep. Slawson said.
“The Texas Heartbeat Act will protect our most precious Texans from the moment their heart begins to beat,” Rep. Slawson continued. “Once that heartbeat is detected, that life is protected.”
Slawson also noted that as of last week, 13 other states have already passed heartbeat bills.
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