A restrictive, controversial abortion bill is currently gaining support in the Texas state legislature.
As of yesterday (February 25), 57 House Republicans—all but three of whom are men—have signed onto House Bill 1500, which refers to a fetus as an “unborn child” and would outlaw abortion after six weeks. Because this is just two weeks after a missed menstrual period and many people do not know they are pregnant within that time, reproductive rights advocates say the bill would essentially amount to a ban on the procedure.
Briscoe Cain, the Republican representative who co-sponsored HB 1500, called it a “common sense” measure.
HB 1500 states, according to Rewire.News, that an abortion can only be performed in case of a medical emergency or if there is no detectable fetal heartbeat. Physicians found in violation of this would be charged with a felony. The bill was introduced on February 7 and has been steadily amassing support.
According to The Texas Observer:
The Texas bill uses questionable medical claims and language identical to legislation in other states. That includes a definition of “gestational age” that suggests that conception begins on the first day of the woman’s last menstrual period—even though doctors (and religious doctrines) do not agree on when pregnancy begins. Also included in Cain’s measure is a false claim that fewer than 5 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, incorrectly implying that a heartbeat is a guarantee of a fetus’ viability.
Two of the state’s most prominent anti-abortion organizations, Texas Alliance for Life and Texas Right to Life, have not put their support behind HB 1500 due to what The Texas Observer characterizes as its “its glaring constitutional problems.”
Similar laws that were passed in Iowa, North Dakota and Arkansas were challenged in court and struck down as unconstitutional. The Texas Observer reports that in 2019, 10 states proposed what are called “fetal heartbeat” bills, including Florida, Ohio and now Texas.
The Guttmacher Institute reports that in 2014, Black women had 28 percent of the abortions in Texas, and Latinx women had 25 percent of the procedures.