AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – The Texas Senate took aim at abortion Tuesday, March 30, passing six bills that could make the state’s abortion laws among the most restrictive in the country.
The bills still need to be voted on in the House.
Current Texas law bans most abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy.
Senate Bill 8, the so called “heartbeat bill” would move that up to as early as six weeks, outlawing abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
That equates to just about four weeks after conception before many women even realize they’re pregnant.
The bill provides an exception in the even of a medical emergency, but none, critics point out, for rape or incest.
It would allow anyone to file a lawsuit against someone they suspect of breaking the law.
The other major bill, Senate Bill 9, would trigger a ban on nearly all abortions, excluding those involving a life-threatening medical condition, in the event the U.S. Supreme Court reverses any earlier decision legalizing it.
Abortions, under the law, could become a first-degree felony.
“This bill creates a mechanism to end the loss of life through abortion as soon as possible even if the legislature is not in session,” wrote Stat Senator Angela Paxton who authored the bill.
Other bills, SB 802 and SB 394, would bar the use of pills to induce abortion after seven weeks of pregnancy and require women seeking abortion to consult with a third party provider.
Another bill (SB1173) would ban abortions on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender, as well as those based on a baby’s likelihood to have Down Syndrome or a disability.
Texas Democrats are calling the bills extremist and dangerous.
Opponents of abortion are calling the vote a victory.
It’s unclear when the bills will appear for a vote in the Texas House.