Texas becomes first state ever to enforce ‘heartbeat law’

Texas capitol

As of midnight on September 1, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court had not yet responded to an emergency appeal from abortion proponents to stop the Texas Heartbeat Act from going into effect, which protects preborn children from the first detectable heartbeat (around five to six weeks gestation). According to the Associated Press, at least 12 other states had previously passed legislation to protect children at the same point in gestation, none had been allowed to go into effect until now, making Texas the first state to successfully enforce such a law.

News outlets reported that abortion facilities in the state had stopped scheduling abortions past six weeks days in advance of the September 1 effective date. The AP noted, “Planned Parenthood is among the abortion providers that have stopped scheduling abortions beyond six weeks from conception.”

According to the emergency appeal, the law will “immediately and catastrophically reduce abortion access in Texas, barring care for at least 85 percent of Texas abortion patients (those who are six weeks pregnant or greater) and likely forcing many abortion clinics ultimately to close.” The University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Policy Evaluation Project estimates that about 80% of in-state abortions will be prevented. However, these estimates are not verifiable because Texas abortion data lumps abortions at eight weeks or earlier together. Data from Texas Health and Human Services shows that in 2020 there were 53,922 total abortions committed in Texas on Texas residents. Of those, 45,458 (about 84%) occurred eight weeks or less into the pregnancy. The Texas Heartbeat Act does not restrict abortion based on gestational age but on the detection of a fetal heartbeat using whatever method the abortionist deems appropriate — likely either an ultrasound or Doppler fetal heartbeat monitor. According to the law, “A physician does not violate this section if the physician performed a test for a fetal heartbeat as required […] and did not detect a fetal heartbeat.” This makes it difficult to determine how many abortions will be prevented, but it will likely be a large percentage, perhaps even greater than 85%.

“Right now in the great state of Texas, every single child with a detectable heartbeat is legally protected from being killed by the violence of abortion. This is a historic step forward for basic human rights,” said Lila Rose, founder and president of Live Action. “I applaud the brave advocates and lawmakers in Texas for passing this innovative law designed to withstand the tidal wave of attacks from abortionists and their apologists. Citizens and lawmakers must be vigilant in their defense of this law because we know that the abortion industry is determined to profit from the deaths of as many children as they can. No matter what happens going forward, today is a day for celebration and a vital reprieve for the precious children scheduled for death behind the doors of a Texas abortion business. Dozens of life affirming pregnancy centers all around the state stand by with the resources and compassion to ensure every mother and father are equipped to care for their children and families. The pro-life movement will continue fighting until every single child is protected in law and supported to live out her full potential.”

The Texas Heartbeat Act is unique in that it allows for civil penalties against those who commit or “aid and abet” an abortion once a heartbeat is detectable. As Live Action News reported in May following the signing of the law, “Though the law does not include punishments for women who undergo abortions after a heartbeat is detected in their child, it does allow private citizens to file lawsuits against a doctor that commits an abortion on such a child” as well as those who are involved in helping a woman to procure that abortion. The abortion industry responded by labeling the civil action portion of the law as an “abortion bounty.”

A preborn child’s heart begins to beat between 16 and 22 days after fertilization, but a unique human life begins at the moment of fertilization.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated from its original publication. 

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