AUSTIN — Countless Texas children’s lives will be saved, thanks to a soon-to-be state law.

On Wednesday, the Texas House of Representatives voted in favor of Senate Bill 8, dubbed the Texas Heartbeat Act. The proposed law would make it illegal for an individual to kill a child in the womb once the baby’s heartbeat is detected.

“The heartbeat is clear and unequivocal evidence of human life,” said the bill’s House sponsor, State Rep. Shelby Slawson (R–Stephenville). “Many men and women in this chamber have had that incredible experience when we first heard the sound of our then-unborn babies play out in a doctor’s office … that beautiful melody of a tiny life: innocent, vulnerable, and worthy of our protection.”

More than 53,000 Texans were killed through abortions in 2020, according to the latest state data. Thirteen states have already passed similar heartbeat laws.

“The Texas Heartbeat Act will protect the lives of our most precious Texans starting at the moment their heart begins to beat,” Slawson continued. “Quite simply, this bill requires that before an abortion is performed, a physician must check for a heartbeat. And once that heartbeat is detected, that life is protected.”

“Upon detection of a heartbeat, that physician is prohibited from knowingly performing or inducing an abortion and can be held civilly liable unless there is a medical emergency.”

The Heartbeat Act passed on a nearly straight party line, with 81 Republicans voting “yes” and 63 Democrats voting “no.” State Rep. Ryan Guillen (Rio Grande City) was the only Democrat to join in supporting the protection.

Democrats publicly argued against the bill on Wednesday, with State Rep. Nicole Collier (D–Fort Worth) saying the law to protect babies was “wasting time.”

“[There are] so many things that we could be talking about instead of wasting time on something that is unconstitutional,” she said. “We need to focus on the real issues in front.”

Collier added that to stop an individual from killing a healthy child in the womb was “chipping away at me as a person,” arguing that one should have the right to kill their own baby.

“Every year, the Legislature comes and takes away some right that I have,” Collier said.

However, even Democrat State Rep. Donna Howard (Austin) admitted that they were supporting exterminating a baby in the womb.

“There’s no argument I could ever give that says that we’re not talking about a life, a developing life in the uterus. I get that,” Howard said. “But I’m making a decision based on my faith and the way that I have been raised, my moral universe … I support a women’s choice to control her own body.”

The proposed law has already passed the Texas Senate on a near-party line vote; it now needs one more procedural vote in the House. The bill will then head back to the Senate for approval with amendments, then it will end up on the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

“For far too long, abortion has meant the end of a beating heart,” Slawson concluded. “But through this, the Texas Heartbeat Act, that beautiful melody of a beating heart will mean the protection of those innocent unborn lives in Texas.”