‘Heartbeat’ bill that would ban abortions as early as 6 weeks heads to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk

Texas Politics
An ultrasound of a fetus in the first trimester (AP Photo/Rebecca Santana)

An ultrasound of a fetus in the first trimester (AP Photo/Rebecca Santana)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Thursday, the Texas Senate agreed to changes the House made to SB 8, also known as a fetal “heartbeat” bill, that would ban doctors from performing abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

It now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk to be signed into law.

A fetal heartbeat can occur as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — before many women even know they are pregnant.

Last week, Rep. Donna Howard, D–Austin, challenged this idea on the House floor, saying science shows the fetal “heartbeat” that is heard is actually “an amplified version of electrical signals.” She said she values life and was grateful for her own children and grandchildren, but added “it doesn’t always work that way for everybody.”

Republican Rep. Shelby Slawson gave her testimony in support of the bill last week, saying her mother was recommended to abort her, but instead she carried Slawson to term.

“When a beating heart represents a life within a womb, we have a duty to protect that innocent unborn life,” Slawson said.

If signed into law, SB 8 would allow anyone to sue a doctor who performs an abortion after that point or anyone who helped in the process. The bill does make an exception for abortions in the case of a medical emergency but not for rape or incest, according to the Texas Tribune.

The Texas Tribune also reports Gov. Greg Abbott has said he intends to sign the bill into law.

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