Texas heartbeat ban takes effect, breaks barrier

A Texas law that prohibits abortion when a fetal heartbeat can be detected became effective Wednesday (Sept. 1) in a barrier-breaking development hailed by pro-life advocates and decried by abortion-rights defenders.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to block enforcement of the measure in response to a last-ditch request by abortion-rights organizations meant the law became the first heartbeat ban to take effect in the United States. The Texas Heartbeat Act’s prohibition on abortion when a fetal heartbeat can be detected can bar the procedure as early as five to six weeks into pregnancy.

The Supreme Court did not indicate its view of the constitutionality of the Texas law by declining to issue an order in the case. The justices have already agreed to rule in their next term on a Mississippi law that prohibits abortions of unborn children whose gestational age is more than 15 weeks. The high court has not scheduled oral arguments in that case for this term, which begins in October.

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