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What Texas’ Strict New Abortion Law Really Means?

Abortion-rights advocates were outraged this past week when Texas Gov., Greg Abbott, enacted the strictest abortion ban in the U.S.. This new law bans the procedure, in most cases, at 6-weeks of pregnancy; when a heart beat can be detected from the fetus. Though there are some exceptions to the law which may include impregnation by rape or incest. Gov. Abbott said during a press conference that Texas fights to “eliminate all rapists from the streets,” in relation to abortion ban law. As the talk of the ban circulates around the media, many are calling it the ‘Senate 8 Bill,’ or ‘Texas Heartbeat Act.’ Medical experts find the title of the Heartbeat Act misleading to the public. Sources from Yahoo News say that detection from the fetus’ heartbeat is not what led this law in place.

When looking closer into the legislative text, it highlights that physicians are unable to perform the abortion procedure once a “fetal heartbeat is detected.” Defined by the legislator a ‘ fetal heartbeat’ is considered “cardiac activity or the steady and repetitive rhythmic contraction of the fetal heart within the gestational sac.” 

Nisha Verma, an obstetrician-gynecologist and a family planning specialist, disagrees with what the legislation defines as a ‘heartbeat.’ According to Verma, the monitors are picking up on electronic impulses which translates into what sounds like a heartbeat. Within the developmental stage of the fetus that Texas has placed, it is not possible for the sounds of the cardiac valves to be heard as they have not even had the time to develop yet. Dr. Verma says that detection of the heartbeat can not be heard until around the 17-20 week period of pregnancy. 

Individuals who are against Texas’ abortion law call this “the biggest curb on abortion in the U.S.” since the legalization of the procedure. The Roe v. Wade case set a precedent for women’s reproductive rights in 1973. Continuing developments on the issue are seen as one of the strongest challenges of abortion access in the last 50 years. Many similar abortion laws have been brought to court and denied. The difference with Texas’ ban is that the responsibility is placed onto private citizens. Indivdiuals are able to sue medical professions or anyone else involved in performing an abortion.

Gov. Abbott stands by his decision stating “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 could be heard discussing his stance on tape as he attended the bill signing ceremony. In accordance with Abbott, John Seago, legislative director for Texas Right to Life celebrates the news saying “This is the most significant accomplishment for the pro-life movement in Texas since Roe v. Wade.”

Abortion-rights actvisits are not the only ones who are challenging Texas’ strict law. The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against the state’s new law. The department’s approach being that the state can not violate the Constitution or the 14th Amendment which provides equal protection to all its citizens. The Constitution upholds individual’s rights, this includes the right to an abortion. Considering that this is a federal law, it overrides any power a state law holds. President Biden, a supporter of Roe v. Wade, has called for help from the Justice Department asking them to examine the bill closely to determine whether they have the power to invalidate the state’s law.

In correspondence with this new passed bill, the U.S. supreme court has agreed to a hearing in Mississippi that will put a ban on the procedure at 15 weeks of pregnancy.

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