Abortion Debate Heats Up In Texas After Signing Of 'Heartbeat Bill'

Wednesday's signing of the "Heartbeat Bill" in Texas ignited a new chapter in the politically and emotionally charged debate.

Video Transcript

DOUG DUNBAR: So let's start with the abortion fight. It's without question heating up here in Texas. Today, Governor Greg Abbott signing the heartbeat bill. And this now bans basically any abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, and that can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

GREG ABBOTT: That the life of every unborn child who has a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion.

DOUG DUNBAR: Just days after lawmakers voted to send Senate bill 8, known as the Heartbeat Bill, to the governor's desk, Greg Abbott signed it into law Wednesday morning, starting a new chapter in the politically and emotionally-charged debate.

CARISA LOPEZ: This bill is an attempt to outright ban abortion in Texas. This bill bans abortion after around six weeks, which is before most people know they're even pregnant.

JONATHAN COVEY: Once the heartbeat is detected, the doctor has to take all necessary steps to protect the life of the child. So it's a very simple, straightforward bill in a lot of ways.

DOUG DUNBAR: Heartbeat bills have passed in other states, but there's a twist in the Texas law. State officials will not enforce the ban.

JONATHAN COVEY: This is entirely enforced by individuals, filing lawsuits against those who are trying to commit abortions. And that's how it's enforced.

CARISA LOPEZ: It means that doctors, nurses, clinics, friends, and family can be subjected to endless harassing lawsuits.

DOUG DUNBAR: Dallas attorney David Coale says it's a unique concept, and he plans to watch to see if the courts accept it.

DAVID COALE: And the clear intent of that is to require abortion providers to defend a number of different lawsuits at the same time instead of being able to coordinate resources in one lawsuit in one place against one party.

DOUG DUNBAR: Currently, Texas law bans most abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. Exceptions are made if a woman has a life-threatening medical condition or if the fetus has a severe abnormality. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of abortions take place in the first 13 weeks of a woman's pregnancy. Texas law, by the way, scheduled now to go into effect officially come September. However, we do know abortion rights groups have signaled clearly that they will challenge this.