AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Less than one week after Texas lawmakers sent Senate Bill 8, known as the “Heartbeat Bill,” to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk, he signed it into law.
“The life of every unborn child who has a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion,” proclaimed Abbott during a Facebook Live event Wednesday morning.READ MORE: Remarkable Turnaround For North Texas Puppy Found 2 Years Ago Fighting For Life
The signing ignited a new chapter in the politically and emotionally charged debate.
“This bill is an attempt to outright ban abortion in Texas. This bill bans abortion after around 6 weeks which is before when most people know that they’re pregnant,” explained Carisa Lopez, political director with Texas Freedom Network.
Supporters of Senate Bill 8 see it differently.
“Once the heartbeat is detected, the doctor has to take all necessary steps to protect the life of the child. It’s a very simple bill in a lot of ways,” said Jonathan Covey, policy director with Texas Values.
“Heartbeat bills” have passed in other states. However, there is a twist in the Texas law.
State officials won’t enforce the ban.READ MORE: Fourth Stimulus Check: Is Another Relief Payment Coming Soon?
“This is entirely enforced by individuals filing lawsuits against those who are trying to commit abortions. And that’s how it’s enforced,” said Covey.
Lopez countered, “It means doctors, nurses, clinics, friends and family can be subjected to endless, harassing lawsuits.”
Dallas attorney David Coale told CBS 11 News it’s a unique concept. He will be watching to see if the courts accept it.
“And the clear intent of that is to require abortion providers to defend a number of different lawsuits at the same time, instead of being able to coordinate resources into one lawsuit, in one place against one party,” said Coale.
Currently, Texas law bans most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Exceptions are made if a woman has a life-threatening medical condition, or the fetus has a severe abnormality.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, most abortions take place in the first 13 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy.MORE NEWS: Fort Hood Soldier Accused Of Smuggling Migrants Into Texas From Mexico
The Texas law is scheduled to go into effect this September. Abortion rights groups have signaled they will challenge the law in court.