As “heartbeat” bills continue to pass state legislatures only to be struck down by courts, Texas is trying a unique strategy to protect life in the womb that will allow citizens to file lawsuits against abortion providers rather than have the government enforce the ban.
Heartbeat bills have been passed in several states but are immediately challenged in court, where the prolife measures are routinely struck down. Texas has developed a creative approach that may allow its heartbeat bill to escape the fate of other similar legislation.
Under the Texas Heartbeat Act, abortions are banned after a child’s heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks gestational age. What makes this bill different, however, is that the government will not attempt to enforce the ban by levying punishments. Instead, the bill opens abortion providers to civi lawsuits by private citizens.
Rep. Shelby Slawson, who sponsored the bill, explained, “Once that heartbeat is detected, that life is protected. For far too long, abortion has meant the end of a beating heart.”
The Texas Right to Life remarked, “The Texas Heartbeat Act is novel in approach, allowing for citizens to hold abortionists accountable through private lawsuits. The bill does not punish women who obtain abortions.”
Critics claim that the legislation will allow those opposed to abortion to backlog the courts with lawsuits to “harass doctors, patients, nurses, domestic violence counselors, a friend who drove a woman to a clinic, or even a parent who paid for a procedure.”
They say the bill could have a “chilling effect” on abortion providers and could leave staff “subject to tens of thousands of dollars in liability to total strangers.”
The bill faces another challenge in that it could violate the state constitutional requirement that only those personally affected can file a civil lawsuit.
Democratic Rep. Donna Howard said, “We do not want to return to a time when women had to hide in the shadows and risk their very lives with unsafe procedures.”
Pro-life groups are optimistic about the bill, however. Texas Right to Life Senior Legislative Associate Rebecca Parma said,
“The Texas Heartbeat Act is the strongest Pro-Life bill passed by the Legislature since Roe v. Wade and will save thousands of lives. This is a historic day and now is the time to build on our momentum. State lawmakers must use the remaining weeks of session to pass additional life-saving legislation like the Texas Abolition Strategy and the Respecting Texas Patients’ Right to Life Act.”
Pro-choice proponents like NARAL are angered by the bill, which Gov. Greg Abbott, R, is expected to sign. Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said, “With their lack of power at the federal level, anti-choice lawmakers across the country are ramping up their attacks on reproductive freedom at the state level, and cruelty appears to be the point.”
Pro-choice advocates upset about potential lawsuits have no one to blame but themselves. For decades, pro-life states in the south and mid-west have been denied the American right to self-governance. Abortion giants like Planned Parenthood protest virtually any common-sense restriction on abortion and judges dutifully strike down laws intended to protect the unborn.
States that prefer restrictions on abortion have been forced to accept practices they find heinous. With this law, Texas is attempting to return the power back to the people, allowing them to act on their beliefs and to defend our most vulnerable.
To the tired argument that women will return to back-alley abortions, if that is true then so be it. We do not legalize murder so that it is safer for the one taking a life. Perhaps it will deter some from ending the life of a child.
Hogue shows just how upside-down the morality of the abortion industry is. This law is an attempt to protect children from being brutally killed through horrifying and tortuous acts, yet to abortion advocates it is cruel. They are actually the cruel ones, attempting to deny Texans the right to self-governance and, more importantly, attempting to deny Texan babies the right to have their beating hearts keep on beating.