Texas State Senator Bryan Hughes is making a major move next week. It is expected that as early as Tuesday 3/9/2021, he will file SB 8 Heartbeat Bill which, if passed, would restrict abortion and protect unborn babies after a heartbeat is detected.
This bill comes at a time when the United States Supreme Court is more likely than ever to uphold the bill if challenged in court, thanks to the new additions to the Supreme Court by former President Donald Trump. It is important that, under this bill, the prohibition on abortion would be after a heartbeat is detected. The unique heartbeat is a universal sign of individual life. I recall during a constitutional law class at Texas A&M University, one of the reasons for the Supreme Court originally upholding the right to abortion was because it was not clear from science, nor determined by society, when life begins or is viable. This opened the door, I believe, to allowing the Supreme Court to restrict abortion in the future as science and society formulates when life begins or is viable.
With modern advances in medical science, we can now easily determine when an unborn baby has a unique heartbeat, which is a universal sign of individual life. With the understanding and establishment by the State of Texas that a unique viable life can be established with the presence of a heartbeat, the State of Texas can then extend constitutional rights and protections to that unique individual life by restricting the unnecessary destruction of that life.
The following is a one pager with information directly from the office of Senator Bryan Hughes which gives a summary of the bill and the implications of the bill:
SB 8 – Heartbeat Bill
Office of Senator Bryan Hughes
Issue: Prohibiting an abortion after a heartbeat is present.
Contact: Caitriana Corkill (3-0380)
The fetal heartbeat is a key medical predictor of whether an unborn child will reach live birth. A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks. Current Texas law generally bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
This bill would prevent abortions from being performed or induced once a fetal heartbeat is detected unless there is a medical emergency as defined under Health and Safety Code Section 171.002(3).
The proposed legislation amends the Health and Safety Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Government Code, and the Civil Practice and Remedies Code.
The bill establishes that the State of Texas never repealed, either expressly or impliedly, the state statutes enacted before Roe v. Wade which prohibit abortion unless the mother’s life is in danger.
The bill mandates that the physician determine whether there is a heartbeat. If a heartbeat is detected, the physician is prohibited from knowingly performing or inducing an abortion.
- a criminal offense for violation of the above;
- civil liability for violation of the above;
- a criminal offense for aiding and abetting an abortion;
- civil liability for aiding and abetting an abortion;
- administrative penalties for the physician; and
- a wrongful death action available to the mother and father.
Private civil enforcement is available once the bill becomes effective. All public enforcement will become available once Roe or Casey is overturned.
Finally, the bill sets out what must be noted in the pregnant woman’s medical record. This includes formatting and notes on why the abortion was performed or induced. If a physician performs or induces an abortion under the medical emergency exception, the reason for the abortion must be noted in the pregnant woman’s medical records.