Austin, Texas-- In the capital of Texas, Austin, controversy is brewing. Governor Abbott signs the Heartbeat Bill, otherwise known as Senate Bill 8 into law. The new law presents new legal challenges to Roe vs. Wade and is set to go into effect in September.
The new law makes it illegal to perform an abortion after a heartbeat is detected. The bill does not specify a time frame, but KXAN Austin reports that a heartbeat can be determined as early as six weeks.
Whole Woman’s Health and Whole Woman’s Health Alliance are working to block the bill and are plaintiffs in at least three lawsuits against the state of Texas. KXAN Austin reports:
“This law creates a lot of hostility and surveillance and a difficult environment for providers,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder, president and CEO. “It allows any citizen to bring a lawsuit against providers or people who help someone they know and love access an abortion, so it creates a lot of tension and fear and intimidation, which I think is the purpose.”
Miller goes on to say:
“During a time a law does go into effect, it can have great damage to people’s access to abortion care services while we fight the law in the court.”
Proponents of the bill voice their support:
“It’s making a strong statement that we think that the unborn child, whose heart is beating, and even before, should be protected by the state of Texas,” said Joe Pojman, Ph.D., executive director of Texas Alliance for Life.
Governor Greg Abbott says:
“Millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion,” Abbott said. “In Texas, we work to save those lives.”
Analysts who expect steep opposition, say:
"I think it’s unlikely that before Sept. 1 that there would be action on this, other than action to restrict this, and I don’t think it will go into effect on Sept. 1,” said Jeremi Suri, Ph.D., a professor of history and public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. “These laws have generally been restricted at the court level. Almost none of them have gone into effect.”
Diana Gomez, the advocacy manager for Progress Texas, says the bill is unconstitutional:
“Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land and regardless of whatever bill Gov. Abbott signs, no law will stop abortions from happening. It’s unfortunate that anti-abortion politicians were more focused on restricting access to essential medical care this session than providing COVID relief and tackling our failed power grid.”
What's different about this bill is that private citizens can sue abortion providers or anyone who "aids and abets" an abortion, according to CBS Austin.
Lawmakers in Austin will hear more about the developing issues around the Heartbeat Bill.