AUSTIN, Texas - Senate Bill 8, known as the heartbeat bill, took effect officially on Wednesday.
Abortion providers attempted to challenge the law with the US Supreme Court, but in a 5-4 ruling, the Texas law was upheld.
"It says when a little baby has been growing inside her mother's womb and there is a heartbeat detectable, we are going to protect that life. A heartbeat is the universal sign of life," said state Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola).
A heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks doctors say. Critics say many women may not even know they're pregnant around then. Due to lack of abortion access in Texas, some clinics in neighboring states are already noticing an influx.
"Just in the past two days in Oklahoma City we've taken around four times as many calls as we would have and about 2/3 of those have been Texas patients," said Zack Gingrich-Gaylord, communications director at Trust Women.
The clinic said the law is punishing. "People are already driving three hours to get to the clinic. So 8-10 hours round trip, that means a lot of time they are going to be spending two days away from home," said Gingrich-Gaylord.
Protesters continue to speak out against the law at the Capitol Thursday.
"When you see something that effects your everyday health, reproductive health and betterment of your body it's a little hard not to get jumpy when they are just so frivolous with passing things so quickly," said Erin Sparkman.
They are also speaking out against its ability to deputize citizens to sue anyone helping someone get an abortion. The bill's author says the legality lies with the intent and knowledge of what that woman is going to the clinic for.
"Giving someone a ride, helping someone, encouraging someone, that's not the intent we are talking about. It has to be to do an abortion with a detected heartbeat. It's highly unlikely that someone giving you a ride is going to know all those things," said Hughes.
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