Texas’ unique “heartbeat” law, which is enforced by private citizens filing lawsuits rather than government involvement, has gone into effect after the Supreme Court refused to act on an emergency petition brought by pro-abortion groups.
Under the Texas Heartbeat Act, government authorities do not prosecute abortionists nor are women prosecuted. Instead, the law allows members of the public to sue abortion providers who violate the law, which restricts abortion to less than six weeks gestation. Those found guilty of violating the law are subject to $10,000 in fines.
Some abortion providers were already turning away prospective clients in anticipation of the law’s implementation. All 11 Planned Parenthood locations in Texas have stopped making appointments to perform abortions on any woman whose pregnancy is farther along than six weeks.
Amy Hagstrom Miller, the president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health and Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, said, “Texans, like everyone else in this country, should be able to count on safe abortion care in their own state. No one should be forced to drive hundreds of miles or be made to continue a pregnancy against their will, yet that’s what will happen unless the Supreme Court steps in.”
Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List said, “The American people are eager to humanize our extreme, outdated abortion laws.” She added, “We stand with Texas and hope that, soon, the Court will finally unshackle all states to protect the most vulnerable among us.”
Indeed, the Supreme Court is expected to reexamine Roe v. Wade later this year when it evaluates the constitutionality of Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks gestation.
The Guttmacher Institute claims that the Texas law will mean the average driving distance for women seeking to abort their baby would be 248 miles rather than 12.
It is possible that the constitutionality of this unique approach to protecting the unborn will still be challenged in court, but this is one of the most encouraging victories for the pro-life movement in its nearly five-decade-long history. It also provides a potential blueprint for states to follow in case the Supreme Court does not overturn Roe v. Wade. It is patently ridiculous that states must be this creative in order to protect babies from being murdered, but it is encouraging that at least one path has finally been allowed.
The complaints of the abortion lobby show how upside down many are on this issue. They wail about women being forced to drive a few hours to kill their child or being forced to continue a pregnancy. What an inconvenience! What a burden! The more difficult that states can make it for a woman to have an abortion, the better because despite what many think, girls and boys in the womb deserve protection as well.
Moreover, if there is no safety valve in the form of a quick, convenient trip to the local abortionist, perhaps women will be a lot more careful and responsible in making sure they don’t suffer an “accidental” pregnancy — or if they do get pregnant, they may finally have the time and space they need to figure out that the child they have a chance to bring into the world is actually a blessing.