Texas abortion law goes into effect while awaiting Supreme Court

After passing during the regular legislative session, Texas' Senate Bill 8 has gone into effect on Sept. 1.

"Senate Bill 8, the Heartbeat Act requires that before a physician performs an abortion that he detects, sees if there is a detectable heartbeat of the child. If the heartbeat is detected, that abortion is prohibited," said John Seago with Texas Right to Life.

The bill doesn't lay out what gestational age this is, but the accepted standard in the healthcare community is between five-and-a-half to six weeks.

"We don't believe that elective abortion is ethical. We believe elective abortion represents an act of violence, an act of injustice," said Seago.

"The majority of people don't even know they're pregnant as early as five or six weeks," said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health.

The bill is seeing its share of legal challenges from organizations like Whole Woman's Health who filed a case recently.

"When we exhausted the opportunities from the Fifth Circuit, they canceled the hearing we had scheduled yesterday on this case. We had no option left but to seek input from the Supreme Court," said Miller.

Whole Woman’s Health says decisions on abortions should be left to the individuals and their families.

"This law doesn't do anything to prevent unplanned pregnancy. Some people will be able to travel out of state. Most people will be forced to continue the pregnancy against their will and some will take matters into their own hands," said Miller.

The law also allows citizens to sue an abortion provider. "The bill actually prohibits state officials from enforcing this law and allows private citizens to bring lawsuits and hold the abortion industry accountable," said Seago.

As the decision sits in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court, many Texans are still uncertain of what the law will be come Sept. 1.

Tuesday a Travis County judge issued a temporary restraining against Texas Right to Life, stopping them from enforcing SB 8. The Texas Right to Life released a statement saying the order only applies to three specific people:

A Travis County judge issued a temporary restraining order against Texas Right to Life and Legislative Director John Seago, preventing them from filing lawsuits against only three specific people. This ruling does not impact any other citizen’s ability to sue for violations of the Texas Heartbeat Act, which is currently slated to take effect September 1. Despite attempts to manipulate the media, this ruling does not block the Texas Heartbeat Act from being enforced at midnight.

Last week, a pro-abortion social worker, a pro-abortion attorney, and an organization called The Bridge Collective sued Texas Right to Life as an organization and Texas Right to Life’s Legislative Director. The plaintiffs claimed they feared Texas Right to Life would sue them under the Texas Heartbeat Act for aiding and abetting illegal abortions. Texas Right to Life never threatened to sue these specific plaintiffs.

This ruling by a Travis County judge does not change Texas Right to Life’s plans. Texas Right to Life is still legally authorized to sue others who violate the Texas Heartbeat Act, including abortionists.

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