Texas ‘heartbeat bill’ takes effect, clinics stop abortions

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Texas 'heartbeat bill' takes effect, clinics stop abortions

Planned Parenthood clinics have stopped scheduling abortions beyond the six-week mark in Texas after a new state law went into effect today banning most procedures.

The new law went into effect at midnight after the US Supreme Court did not act on an emergency request by pro-abortion rights groups to block it.

The law, signed into effect by Gov. Greg Abbott in May, bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is usually around the six-week mark.

Planned Parenthood, who filed the emergency request with the court, is among the abortion clinics that have already stopped scheduling the procedures beyond that time frame in the wake of the new law.

The Texas law essentially empowers individuals to enforce the ban because citizens can take legal action against doctors or anyone else who helps terminate a pregnancy — even those who drive a woman to an abortion appointment past the time the heartbeat can be detected.

Citizens who win such lawsuits, under the new law, may be entitled to at least $10,000.

Abortion rights demonstrators.
The law bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is usually around the six-week mark.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Pro-life protesters.
At least 12 other states have enacted similar laws that went on to be blocked by federal courts.
Sergio Flores/Getty Images

The abortion rights advocacy groups trying to block the law say about 90 percent of abortions in Texas occur after six weeks of pregnancy.

They argue the new law means many abortion clinics will be forced to close.

At least 12 other states, mostly in the Bible Belt, have enacted similar laws that have later been blocked by federal courts.

Texas Governor Gregg Abbott.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill in May, declaring, “The life of every unborn child with a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion.”
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

If allowed to remain, the Texas law would be the most dramatic restriction on abortion in the US since the high court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion across the country in 1973.

Under its previous law, Texas banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and granted exceptions for serious medical conditions or abnormal fetuses.

In signing the bill in May, Abbott declared: “The life of every unborn child with a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion.”

An exam room at Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood clinics have stopped scheduling abortions beyond the six-week mark in Texas.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/REUTERS

With Post wires

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