Around 150,000 people marched in the freezing cold last week at the March for Life, in honor of the more than 63 million babies who have been killed by abortion since Roe v. Wade.
Texas has been doing its part to lower the death toll through the passage of the Texas heartbeat law, which has saved over 22,000 preborn babies’ lives since going into effect on Sept. 1, 2021. The success of the law has inspired other states to follow suit: Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and South Dakota are all currently considering similar legislation.
The Texas heartbeat law, which was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott on May 19, 2021, requires abortionists to check for a baby’s heartbeat and to inform the mother if a heartbeat is detected. Once a heartbeat is detected—which can occur as early as around five to six weeks gestation—the abortionist must take all necessary steps to protect the life of the preborn child.
The Texas heartbeat law has a private enforcement mechanism that empowers anyone to sue abortionists and other participants in an illegal abortion, rather than having the government enforce such a violation. Ever since the law has gone into effect, virtually all abortions in Texas have been brought to a halt. Even before it took effect, we outlined why the Texas heartbeat law is sound science and strong strategy.
The U.S. Supreme Court has weighed in largely in favor of the Texas heartbeat law four times, and it has allowed the law to remain in effect despite enormous pressure and legal requests to strike the law down and halt its enforcement.
On Dec. 16, 2021, the Supreme Court ruled in two cases related to a legal challenge against the Texas heartbeat law. First, the Supreme Court completely shot down and dismissed the Biden administration’s Department of Justice lawsuit against the state of Texas, which questioned the constitutionality of the law.
In the second lawsuit (by abortion businesses), the Supreme Court refused to stop the law and instead ruled that abortion businesses could not bring a lawsuit against various Texas state officials, including Attorney General Ken Paxton, state court judges, state court clerks, and other individuals.
The Supreme Court did, however, send a small portion of the case back to the federal 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and there was a hearing on Jan. 7.
This court hearing was about the technical legal question of determining whether the remaining few state government officials could be sued under the Texas heartbeat law, even though the law makes it clear that it does not involve government officials, and that it can only be enforced by private citizens through civil court cases.
On Jan. 20, the Supreme Court denied a petition from the abortion lobby to send the litigation to a Texas district court. The Supreme Court instead will allow the 5th Circuit Court to proceed with sending the case to the Texas Supreme Court, where that technical legal question will ultimately be taken up.
Throughout all this, the law has remained enforceable and in effect, thus saving the lives of tens of thousands of babies who would have otherwise been killed by abortion in Texas. Even before it took effect—and certainly after—the pro-abortion lobby went into a fit of hysterics and launched into a barrage of legal attacks, with little success at stopping it.
The attacks have been multifaceted, and the legal webs are complex, but the abortion lobby’s attempts at the trial level, district court level, the court of appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court have turned up empty-handed.
Additionally, there have been lawsuits leveled against individuals (including elected and state officials and clerks) as well as individual organizations without any basis.
So far, the Texas heartbeat law has proven itself to be indestructible, and this is why it has been so appealing to other states who are now following Texas’ lead.
In the meantime, pro-life advocates have demonstrated that the world has not stopped turning since the law went into effect, and that they are willing to do whatever it takes to support moms facing unplanned pregnancies.
Since the law went into effect, pregnancy care centers in Texas have reported an increase in care.
Heartbeat International did a survey evaluating 69 pregnancy resource organizations in Texas and surrounding states during September 2021. The results—41% of these centers saw an increase in clients, including an increase in clients seeking very early ultrasounds, an increase in demand for adoption agencies, more walk-in traffic, and an increase in callers who at the outset were very abortion-minded.
In 2022, the state of Texas has earmarked $100 million in grants through its Alternatives to Abortion program. This program, which began in 2006, works with contracted service providers, including pregnancy centers, social service providers, adoption agencies, and maternity homes for pregnant women to support services for pregnant women, their families, and adoptive parents.
The services are aimed at addressing the medical, emotional, and practical needs of moms in unplanned pregnancies, including maternity and baby clothing, food, furniture, temporary shelter, medical resources, adoption resources, counseling and mentoring services, assistance with education and career decisions, as well as pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting classes.
There are hundreds of pregnancy centers in Texas and in neighboring states that provide these services.
For more information about local services for moms and important statistics about the care available to moms and babies in Texas and beyond, please visit Texas Values’ newly updated website, www.texasheartbeatlaw.com.
The Texas heartbeat law has given tens of thousands of Texas babies a second chance at life. The pro-life movement embraces women in unplanned pregnancies and stands ready to help them. The current situation in Texas gives us a peek into a post-Roe world. Yes, we can love them both and save them both, and we must. Simply put, the (heart)beat goes on.
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