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'Heartbeat Bill' goes into effect Wednesday despite Tuesday stay

AP Poll Abortion
Posted at 10:33 PM, Aug 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-01 13:52:18-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Despite a temporary restraining order being granted by a Travis County judge, SB 8, a controversial Texas abortion bill, was enacted Wednesday after midnight.

The so-called "Heartbeat Bill," bans women from getting abortions as early as six weeks, unless there is a medical emergency.

Texas abortion providers filed an emergency appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, which went untouched.

But in a separate case on Tuesday, a Travis County judge agreed with Dallas attorney and women’s rights advocate Michelle Simpson Tuegle, who said lawsuits against anyone who aided and abetted an abortion six weeks after a fetal heartbeat is detected are unconstitutional. A temporary stay was issued.

Tuegle released the following statement in response to that decision:

'This decision means, at least for today, a court is communicating to Texas' women that they will continue to legally access resources, advice and support as it relates to abortion in Texas.'
-- Michelle Simpson Tuegle

The "Heartbeat Bill" would give private citizens the right to sue for at least $10,000 in damages, plus attorney’s fees.

Advocates said the "Heartbeat Bill" would save hundreds of thousands of fetal lives.

“They should have a choice to live,” said Texas A&M-Corpus Christi sophomore Emanie Jolly said. “They can either be adopted or anything that can just help them prosper in life, because God has allowed us all to be here for a reason.”

But critics argue most women don’t even know they are pregnant at six weeks.

“Six weeks isn’t that long of a time frame to make that decision to really evaluate your options,” said A&M-CC student Alex Ramos.

There is no language in the bill that exempts women who have been sexually assaulted, or are survivors of incest.

Many call the bill some of the strictest abortion legislation in the country.

“I feel like it’s (the woman's) choice, because it’s their body,” Jeremiah Brazies said.

Pregnancy Center of the Coastal Bend Executive Director Jana Pinson said her organization exists to help women weigh their options once they realize they are pregnant.

“The thing that scares us the most is that they’ll make a decision to get an abortion really fast, without getting the opportunity to really think it through,” she said.

The non-profit sees 9,000 patients a year, and Pinson said many of those women are in crisis.

“Eighty-five percent of those girls end up keeping their babies, and we get to walk through parenting with them,” she said.

Even though the center doesn’t provide or encourage abortion, Pinson said her staff supports women through free services, no matter what they choose -- even after the procedure.

“We try to slow their decision down because it’s a knee-jerk reaction that then they regret later, and so we just give them time,” Pinson said.

She worries that something like the "Heartbeat Bill" will make women feel forced into making a quick decision, one way or another.

"So it kind of takes away that time for us," she said.

A&M-CC student Julianna Rincon opposes the way in which the bill aims to control women.

“Since they’re not regulating masks and they’re allowing people to make a choice over their body," she said. "But for some reason women can’t? Like, they are controlling women’s bodies.”

When it comes to abortion rights in the Lone Star State, the future of the heartbeat bill is still up for debate.

Check out other Texas laws that might affect you starting Sept. 1 here.