A heartbeat bill has recently been passed in Texas, and these bills tend to spark controversy. Senator Bryan Hughes from Mineola, Texas introduced a fetal heartbeat bill into the Texas Senate on March 11, 2021. State Representative Shelby Slawson then introduced a fellow bill into the statehouse. The point of a heartbeat bill is to make abortion illegal once a heartbeat can be detected; therefore, the bill in Texas bans abortions as early as six weeks though there are exceptions for medical emergencies. However, women who were impregnated from rape or incest are not exempt. The bill has passed both chambers and was signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott on May 19, 2021. The bill will officially be in effect on September 1st of this year.
The reason these types of bills are controversial is, first of all, because women who are pregnant are unaware of their pregnancies at six weeks from their last period. This makes it very difficult for abortion to even be an option in the first place. A Texas Tribune article titled Gov. Greg Abbott signs into law one of nation’s strictest abortion measures, banning procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy states “about 90% of women who come to Whole Woman’s Health clinics are more than six weeks into their pregnancy.” Another issue brought up was pregnancies from rape. It is estimated that 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year, and very few victims receive the medical treatment they need. These heartbeat bills have loopholes, which allow rapists to seek custody of their children with the victim. This chains women who are victims of sexual assault to their abusers through childbirth.
The big debate is whether or not an unborn child has the right to life. The heartbeat bill falls along with the logic that, if there is a heartbeat, that means life. That falls in line with Governor Greg Abbott’s beliefs when he said “our creator endowed us with the right to life and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion. In Texas, we work to save those lives. And that’s exactly what the Texas legislature did this session.” What does this mean for the women of Texas and the future of Texas itself? The statistics will tell.