Texas House to consider ‘heartbeat bill’ after approval by the Senate

State & Regional

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Senate on Tuesday approved six bills that would further restrict access to abortions in the state.

Each of the proposals still need approval from the Texas House in order for Gov. Greg Abbott to sign them into law.

Heartbeat bill

Senate Bill 8, a so-called heartbeat bill, passed the Texas Senate by a vote of 19-12 on Tuesday afternoon. If approved by the House, it would ban abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat and establishes civil liability for abortion providers. The bill only provides an exception for a medical emergency.

The bill’s author, Republican Sen. Bryan Hughes of Tyler, believes the Texas Heartbeat Act will stand up better to legal challenges than heartbeat bills in several other states, which have been blocked or held up by courts.

Roe v. Wade “trigger”

Senate Bill 9 serves as a “trigger” to ban nearly all abortions in the event the U.S. Supreme Court repeals the landmark abortion rights ruling of Roe v. Wade. The Texas Senate approved SB 9 by a vote of 19-12 on Tuesday.

“I’m an adopted child,” Sen. Angela Paxton shared Monday on the Senate floor. “My life began under circumstances that might very well have led to an abortion. I was very grateful that my mother chose life for me.”

ACLU Texas condemned Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the Texas Senate ahead of the votes.

“Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick continues to push his extreme agenda by forcing seven anti-abortion bills through the Texas Senate,” Drucilla Tigner, policy and advocacy strategist for the ACLU of Texas, wrote in a statement. “Most Texans believe abortion should be legal, yet Lt. Governor Patrick has made banning abortion a top priority. The Senate should stop peddling Lt. Governor Patrick’s extreme agenda, and instead focus on the real crises facing Texans.”

Required consultation

State law already requires a physician to provide a woman seeking an abortion with “informed consent” materials. Senate Bill 802 would require a woman to also receive consultation from a third-party service provider under the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

A physician would have to verify that a woman seeking an abortion received the “unique identifying number” provided by the service provider and recorded in a government database.

Pill-induced abortion ban

While federal guidelines say pill-induced abortion treatments are suitable up to 10 weeks of pregnancy, Senate Bill 394 would ban the option after seven weeks.

Maleeha Aziz, a community organizer for the Texas Equal Access Fund, used the pill abortion treatment twice — once as a college student who, despite being on birth control, was faced with an unplanned pregnancy and recently when an unplanned pregnancy with her husband.

Aziz and her husband have a young daughter, but she faced a difficult pregnancy and worried about potential health complications.

“I feel like all abortions are valid, regardless of the circumstances, because only the person going through it knows their circumstances the best,” Aziz told KXAN. “It’s also nobody’s business.”

Discriminatory abortion ban

Senate Bill 1173 would ban abortions “on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, probability or confirmed diagnosis of Down Syndrome or probability or diagnosis of a disability.”

The bill would also ban abortions in the third trimester of pregnancy unless there is a medical emergency.

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