Several bills pertaining to abortion, including the so-called "heartbeat bill," were passed by Texas Senate Monday. They now go to the state House.
“We wanted to find a way to protect innocent human life," said Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), who filed the bill. "You think about what the government's job is: we work on a lot of important things, but protecting innocent human life is fundamental."
Senate Bill 8 would ban an abortion after a heartbeat is detected, with exceptions in the case of the health of the mother, but not for rape or incest. Similar heartbeat bills have been passed in other states but have been challenged in the courts. Hughes said he believes the Texas bill is written to survive those challenges.
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“We believe this bill is going to take effect right away and is going to be upheld by the Supreme Court,” Hughes said.
Senate Bill 8 was one of seven bills pertaining to abortion in front of the Senate.
Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, the policy arm of the organization, called the bills some of the most extreme in the country.
“Dan Patrick’s extreme political agenda is not what Texans need or want right now. In fact, the majority of Texans support access to safe, legal abortion," Planned Parenthood Texas Votes Executive Director Dyana Limon-Ricardo said in a statement. "Texans believe that abortion should be accessible. Nobody should face fear, stigma or unnecessary barriers when seeking out reproductive health care, including abortion care and deciding on how to plan their families. Texans are still recovering from a deadly natural disaster in the middle of a pandemic while Dan Patrick and some in the legislature are wasting time trying to ban abortion, further jeopardizing people's well-being. “
State Sen. Nathan Johnson (D-Dallas) spoke on the Senate floor about the bills.
“It’s all presented in the name of a moral cause that I think disregards the moral cause on the other side of the debate, and I think that's what so difficult for those of us who do want to uphold a woman’s right to govern her own productivity," Johnson said. " There is a moral case on that side as well."
The bills will move to the Texas House for debate and vote next month.
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