Texas Heartbeat Law

What is the Texas Heartbeat Act?

TexasThe Texas Heartbeat Act, which took effect on September 1, 2021, bans abortions when a baby’s life is detected in the womb by a heartbeat. The Act penalizes physicians from performing or inducing an abortion once a heartbeat is detected.

The Texas Heartbeat Act is different from heartbeat laws that have been struck down in other states because it allows any person to sue abortion providers for violating this law.

An abortion provider may not perform an abortion without the voluntary and informed consent of the pregnant woman. Consent is considered “voluntary and informed” only if the abortion provider:

  • informs the pregnant woman of the medical risks associated with the abortion procedure to be used, including the risks of infection and hemorrhage, the potential danger of infertility and harm to a later pregnancy, the possibility of increased risk of breast cancer after an abortion and the natural protective effect of a completed pregnancy in avoiding breast cancer and the probable age of the unborn child at the time the abortion is performed or induced.
     
  • informs the pregnant woman that medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care and that the father may be eligible to receive financial help in supporting the child regardless of whether he offered to pay for the abortion.
     
  • provides the pregnant woman with free printed materials that describe the unborn child, list agencies offering alternatives to abortion, inform the pregnant woman of public and private agencies and services available to assist her through pregnancy, childbirth, and the child's dependency, including  a list of adoption agencies; a description of the services the adoption agencies offer; how the pregnant woman can get in touch with them, and a list of agencies and organizations offering free sonogram services.
     
  • has a certified sonographer perform a sonogram on the pregnant woman. The provider must explain the sonogram images, describe in everyday language that the woman can understand the details shown in the images (for example, the presence of the baby’s arms or legs), make the baby’s heartbeat audible to the pregnant woman, and explain to the pregnant woman what she is hearing.

Can I be arrested or sued if I have an abortion?

No.

The Texas Heartbeat Act penalizes abortion providers and prevents them from performing or inducing an abortion once a baby’s heartbeat is detected. There is no legal action taken against the pregnant woman.

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