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Texas ‘Heartbeat Act’ Takes Effect, Most Restricted Abortion Law in US

by | Thu, Sep 2 2021

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The most restrictive abortion laws in the United States have taken effect this month.

The Texas ‘Heartbeat Act’ bans abortions from as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

It requires doctors to conduct a test for a fetal heartbeat.

If one is detected, the doctor is prohibited from performing an abortion.

The new law also gives individuals the right to sue doctors and medical staff who breach those requirements.

It allows exceptions for medical emergencies.

Pro-choice groups have found the law difficult to challenge because it prohibits state officials from enforcing it.

They claim up to 90% of abortions in Texas have taken place after six weeks of pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood clinics have suspended scheduling appointments for such procedures.

Texan women wanting an abortion after six weeks need to travel across state lines.

Ed Whelan, a senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, called the law ‘innovative’ and, from the perspective of pro-lifers, ‘brilliant.’

Lila Rose, president of Live Action, said it would save the lives of around 150 children each day.

US President Joe Biden has denounced the law as ‘extreme’.

The US Supreme Court still has the power to overturn the ban, but so far, it has not responded to an emergency appeal by abortion providers.

It currently has a 6-3 conservative majority.

Three other states, Idaho, Oklahoma and South Carolina, have passed six-week ban bills this year, but all have been stalled by legal challenges and are yet to go into effect.

Kim Schwartz of Texas Right to Life told the BBC that most anti-abortion laws are held up in the court system for years.

Abortion has long been one of the most contentious social issues in the US.

The Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v Wade gave US women the right to an abortion until a foetus is considered viable, around 22 to 24 weeks.

Pro-life groups are now celebrating what they consider a milestone in their decades-long legal and political battle against abortion on demand.

Polls by the Pew Research Center found 60% of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all, or most cases.

Only 35% of Republicans support that position.