AUSTIN — Countless Texas children’s lives could be saved, thanks to a new state law.

On Wednesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 8 by State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R–Mineola), dubbed the Texas Heartbeat Act. The act makes it illegal for an individual in Texas 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 State Rep. Shelby Slawson, the bill’s sponsor in the Texas House of Representatives. “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.”

Unique in Texas’ heartbeat law is its implementation—instead of the government enforcing the law, the bill gives the power to private citizens, who are now able to sue abortion facilities or those who aid and abet in killing a heartbeat-detected child in the womb. Proponents say this strategy will outmaneuver potential legal challenges from abortion businesses that have stalled prior child protection laws.

“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.”

The act goes into effect on September 1, 2021.

Jacob Asmussen

Jacob Asmussen is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard. He attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and in 2017 earned a double major in public relations and piano performance.

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