Texas enacts Heartbeat Act

On May 19, Texas enacted the Texas Heartbeat Act, which outlaws the abortion of a fetus over six weeks. The law seeks to achieve justice through a civil suit rather than a criminal suit, granting private Texas citizens the power to sue all those involved in a potential abortion process, including providers and recievers, to uphold the law.

Each lawsuit is filed through the Texas Secretary of State. The plaintiff does not need evidence of the defendants involvement in an abortion, and if won, the plaintiff would receive a minimum of ten thousand dollars for their case. This money would come from the defendant accused, and if there are multiple defendants, each would pay ten thousand dollars. 

The law has no exceptions for rape and limited medical exemptions, which are determined at the discretion of healthcare providers, rather than a preexisting definition due to its ambiguous nature.

Many supporters of the Heartbeat Act argue that it is immoral for a woman to abort a fetus after cardiac activity can be detected. According to Healthline, this can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. A Texas physician is not allowed to perform an abortion if they can detect any cardiac activity or the contraction of the fetal heart, hence the designated time of six weeks.

The act has stirred controversy due to its challenge of Roe v. Wade, the current Supreme Court precedent case of abortion, under which abortions within the first trimester are legalized nationwide. Many citizens are not content with the Texas Heartbeat Act because they question the constitutionality of it as well as what this may indicate as a precedent for the state to have the power to restrict upon federally settled issues.

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