The Texas Heartbeat Act went into effect the morning of Sept. 1 after the Supreme Court failed to respond to abortion advocates’ request for an emergency injunction to block the law. The high court did eventually release a 5-4 opinion the evening of Sept. 1, upholding the law. The act, also known as SB 8, will ban most abortions after a heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks’ gestation. Texas becomes the first state ever to enforce a heartbeat law.
“This is an historic moment in the fight to protect women and children from abortion,” Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a press release. “We’re excited to see the Heartbeat Act save lives starting today and stand with our allies on the front lines serving mothers and families. The American people are eager to humanize our extreme, outdated abortion laws. This law reflects the scientific reality that unborn children are human beings, with beating hearts by six weeks. “
The law also allows private citizens to take civil action against anyone who “performs or induces an abortion” or “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion, including paying for or reimbursing the costs of abortion through insurance or otherwise.”
“Right now in the great state of Texas, every single child with a detectable heartbeat is legally protected from being killed by the violence of abortion,” Lila Rose, founder and president of Live Action, said. “This is a historic step forward for basic human rights. I applaud the brave advocates and lawmakers in Texas for passing this innovative law designed to withstand the tidal wave of attacks from abortionists and their apologists. Citizens and lawmakers must be vigilant in their defense of this law because we know that the abortion industry is determined to profit from the deaths of as many children as they can.
“No matter what happens going forward, today is a day for celebration and a vital reprieve for the precious children scheduled for death behind the doors of a Texas abortion business,” she added. “Dozens of life affirming pregnancy centers all around the state stand by with the resources and compassion to ensure every mother and father are equipped to care for their children and families. The pro-life movement will continue fighting until every single child is protected in law and supported to live out her full potential.”
Gov. Greg Abbott signed the Texas Heartbeat Act into law in May, but on July 13, a group of abortion providers and pro-abortion nonprofit organizations filed a lawsuit seeking to block the measure from going into effect.
The abortion advocates claimed that the law would “create absolute chaos in Texas and irreparably harm Texans in need of abortion services.”
And on Aug. 30, lawyers for several abortion providers—including Planned Parenthood—filed a last-minute request with the U.S. Supreme Court for an emergency injunction. The petition was directed to Justice Samuel Alito, who handles requests from Texas’ 5th Circuit.
The justices’ eventual 5-4 decision to allow the Texas law to stand revealed a deeply divided court. Chief Justice John Roberts dissented along with the court’s three liberal justices.
Updated Sept. 2, 8:15 a.m.