Explainer: Texas authorizes citizens to enforce new abortion law

Texas recently passed a new law that would allow citizens, rather than government officials, to enforce a new law that prohibits abortion as early as the sixth week of pregnancy.

“The Texas Heartbeat Act is novel in approach, allowing for citizens to hold abortionists accountable through private lawsuits,” says Rebecca Parma, a senior legislative associate with Texas Right to Life. “No heartbeat law passed by another state has taken this strategy. Additionally, the bill does not punish women who obtain abortions.”

Here is what you should know about this new pro-life legislation.

What is the Texas Heartbeat Act?

The Texas Hearbeat Act is the latest in state fetal heartbeat bills, legislation that bans abortion after the point where a heartbeat can be detected. By use of an ultrasound, the heartbeat of a child in the womb can routinely be detected as early as 6-7 weeks after conception.

The Texas law requires physicians to test for a heartbeat and prevents them from knowingly performing or inducing an abortion on a pregnant woman if they detect a fetal heartbeat for the unborn child or if the doctor failed to perform a test to detect a fetal heartbeat. A physician does not violate this law if they performed a test for a fetal heartbeat and did not detect a fetal heartbeat.

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