Wednesday afternoon Gov. Greg Abbott signed a ‘Heartbeat Bill’ banning abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, as early as six weeks; before women even know they are pregnant.
The bill essentially leaves enforcement to private citizens through lawsuits against doctors or anyone who assists a woman in getting an abortion. This bill puts Texas in the same boat with over a dozen other states that also ban abortions.
Texas currently bans abortion after 20 weeks, with exceptions for a woman with a life-threatening medical condition or if the fetus has a severe abnormality. More than 90% of abortions take place in the first 13 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Supreme Court recently agreed to take up the Missippi Abortion Law this week, which bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It raises concern for abortion-rights activists who worry that a ruling favorable to the state could lay the groundwork for allowing even more abortion restrictions.
Texas Heartbeat Law would be different and distinctive in that it prohibits state officials from enforcing the ban. Instead, it allows anyone — even someone outside Texas — to sue an abortion provider or anyone else who may have helped someone get an abortion after the limit, and seek financial damages of up to $10,000 per defendant.
The Supreme Court is likely to hear the Mississippi case in the fall, with a decision likely in spring 2022.