07:38 GMT20 June 2021
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    Proponents of the law praised the state’s officials, but abortion rights advocates called it one of the most extreme pieces of legislation in the United States, which they argue threatens women’s constitutional right to have an abortion. They have vowed to challenge the law in courts.

    Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed a bill banning abortions as early six weeks. The official said the legislation would ensure that "every unborn child with a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion".

    "Our Creator endowed us with the right to life and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion. In Texas, we work to save those lives. And that's exactly what the Texas legislature did this session”, the governor said in a video posted on his social media.

    The controversial law requires doctors to check for a foetal heartbeat before performing abortion and bans the procedure if one is detected. The bill allows a doctor to perform an abortion if he or she "believes a medical emergency exists", but still bans the procedure if a woman became pregnant as a result of being raped or incest.

    The legislation will take effect in September.

    Texas is following the suit of other Republican-run states, including Arkansas, Idaho, Oklahoma, and South Carolina, which earlier this year introduced near-total abortion bans. However, the bill signed into law in Texas is unique. Unlike the laws in the said states, it will not be enforced by state officials, but rather residents of Texas.

    Essentially, the law allows Texans to sue any abortion provider or any person who helps a woman to get an abortion. The plaintiff does not have to be related to a person who has had an abortion. Those found guilty would face a fine of $10,000 for each procedure performed or facilitated. This detail has caused concern among abortion rights advocates, who claim that doctors and nurses could be flooded with lawsuits and harassed by anti-abortion campaigners.

    "Every citizen is now a private attorney general. You can have random people who are against abortion start suing tomorrow", said Josh Blackman, a constitutional law professor at South Texas College of Law Houston.

    The current law on abortion bans procedures after 20 weeks (four and a half months). According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 90 percent of abortions in the United States take place during the first 13 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy.

    Tags:
    Greg Abbott, abortion, Texas
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