By Jack Fink

WASHINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – U.S. Senators butted heads Wednesday, Sept 29 over Texas’ new, controversial fetal heartbeat law.

The debate came during a Judiciary Committee hearing on the law itself and on the way the U.S. Supreme Court handles emergency hearings.

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Among those who testified, Democratic State Representative Donna Howard of Austin. “The entire bill is just egregious.”

Howard sharply criticized the law that abolishes abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be at six weeks when many women don’t know they’re pregnant.

No exceptions are allowed for rape and incest.

Government entities can’t enforce the law, only private citizens can, by filing civil lawsuits against doctors and others.

Howard said, “Opening up the possibility of the most frivolous of frivolous lawsuits and has had a chilling effect on doctors being able to deliver the necessary care they’ve taken an oath to provide.

Senator John Cornyn was among the Republicans who defended Texas and disagreed with those who are pro-choice. “Abortion advocates deny the humanity of unborn innocent life. I really think it’s inappropriate for the federal government, the Senate Judiciary Committee to try to single out individual states.”

A new Quinnipiac University Poll of Texas voters released Wednesday shows 45 percent surveyed said yes, abortions should be illegal after a fetal heartbeat is detected, while 43 percent said no, abortion should be legal.

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When it comes to whether exceptions should be made for rape and incest, 77 percent said there should be, while 16 percent said there shouldn’t be.

Regarding the provision allowing private citizens to sue doctors, 72 percent said it’s a bad idea, 21 said it’s a good idea.

Senator Ted Cruz criticized the hearing as well. “What this is really about is trying to demonize Texas. Texas made a perfectly reasonable decision to protect life. Life is valuable.”

Howard told Senators, “I’m very concerned about going back and erasing all of the progress we’ve made over the past century.”

As part of the hearing, Democrats criticized the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision earlier this month against blocking the Texas law.

Republicans said the court’s decision was not nefarious, and just part of the court’s decision to weigh-in on emergency requests.

There are multiple legal challenges in federal and state courts.

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On Friday, Oct. 1, a federal judge in Austin will hold a hearing on the Biden administration’s lawsuit against the state of Texas.