Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is excited to sign a bill that would effectively prohibit abortion for many people. Really excited. On Thursday, he tweeted that he “can’t wait to sign” the so-called “heartbeat bill.”
Abbott’s celebrated that SB 8, which is being spearheaded by lead sponsor and Republican state Rep. Shelby Slawson, is “one step closer” to becoming law after the House passed it a day earlier. The House voted 81-63 in favor of the legislation.
The bill would forbid abortions starting at the point when a heartbeat can be detected, but it also makes it possible for lawsuits to be filed against abortion providers and those who help others get an abortion.
This legislative session, Texas Republican lawmakers have introduced a slate of bills that aim to chip away at reproductive rights, including proposals that would effectively prevent the procedure altogether.
Great news! The heartbeat bill received final passage in the TX house.— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 6, 2021
One step closer to my desk.
Can't wait to sign it.
Thank you @SenBryanHughes & Rep. @ShelbySlawson for your leadership. #txlege #ProLife
On Wednesday, Abbott also said he had “signed 11 laws to protect innocent lives from abortion but more must be done.”
The slate of anti-abortion bills has left reproductive rights groups worried about the future. Jane’s Due Process, an Austin-based organization, said its team “will continue to fight until everyone has access to what they need.”
“Access to abortion is a human right that keeps people safe and allows us all the ability to thrive,” Irma Garcia, client services manager at Jane’s Due Process, said in a statement posted on Twitter.
In a statement on Wednesday night, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas also condemned the bill’s passage.
“Today, the Texas house approved a bill that will ban abortion before most people even know they are pregnant,” said Drucilla Tigner, policy and advocacy strategist for the ACLU of Texas.
The ACLU says Texas is already one of the most difficult states in the country to receive an abortion, estimating that some 900,000 people live more than 150 miles away from the nearest abortion provider in the state.
“This is the playbook for further dismantling the protections of Roe v. Wade: throwing open the courthouse doors to sue abortion access out of existence,” Tigner added. “With this bill, the State of Texas has turned the clock back almost 50 years, to a time before abortion was legal.”
But anti-abortion groups have celebrated the wave of legislation, including SB 8. After the House passed the bill, Texas Right to Life described it as a “life-saving bill” and thanked the lawmakers who supported it.
Other bills this session include a proposal to have a court represent a fetus when a minor requests to have an abortion without their parents' consent and another that would have made it possible for abortion doctors and recipients to receive the death penalty.
Last weekend, Lubbock voted to become a so-called "Sanctuary City for the Unborn," seeking to ban the procedure within city limits. Around two dozen cities have passed similar ordinances in recent years.
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