Abortion ban in Texas, America

Texas passes law banning abortion after six weeks


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89 shares, 61 points

It prohibits abortions after the discovery of a foetal heartbeat, a term used by anti-abortion activists but dismissed by medical experts.

After the Supreme Court did not reply to an emergency appeal by abortion clinics, the legislation went into force, making it one of the most restrictive in the country.

Doctors and women's rights organisations have slammed the bill.

It provides anybody the legal ability to sue doctors who conduct abortions beyond six weeks.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the so-called "Heartbeat Act" into law in May.

However, rights groups like as Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the law.

The ACLU stated that the court had "not replied to our request" in the early hours of Wednesday, adding, "Access to nearly all abortion has just been cut off for millions of individuals."

The organisation, which claims that up to 90% of abortions in Texas occur after six weeks of pregnancy, called the move "blatantly unlawful."

Planned Parenthood, a women's health organisation in the United States, also denounced the ban, tweeting: "Whatever happens, we will not give up and will continue to fight. Abortion should be available to everyone."

The prohibition can yet be overturned by the Supreme Court at a later date.

WHAT DOES THE LAW SAYS ?

Since the 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v Wade, women in the United States have had the right to have an abortion until the foetus is viable, or capable of surviving outside the womb. This generally happens between weeks 22 and 24 of a pregnancy.

The so-called Texas Heartbeat Act makes it illegal to get an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, when many women are unaware they are pregnant. The word "heartbeat" is deceptive, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, because what is being detected at this time is "a piece of the foetal tissue that will become the heart as the embryo grows."

The Texas legislation takes an unusual method to enforcing its prohibition: it allows any ordinary individual to sue anybody who "aides and abets" an unlawful abortion.

The law offers an exemption for medical emergencies, which need documented confirmation from a doctor, but it does not apply to pregnancies caused by rape or incest.

Women in Texas who want an abortion beyond six weeks will have to travel across state lines, or an average of 248 miles, according to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute (399km).

HOW DO AMERICANS FEEL ?

Abortion has long been a controversial societal issue in the United States. According to Pew Research Center polls, approximately six out of ten Americans agree that abortion should be allowed in all or most instances.

This figure has been relatively steady over the last two decades, but it conceals a party divide: just 35% of Republicans agree with this viewpoint.

In conservative Texas, over half of respondents support a six-week abortion ban, according to a survey taken in April.


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