TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Texas Senate Bill 8 is currently being read over by the state House of Representatives. This legislation bans a majority of abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected by a physician.
This bill is a priority for Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. State Senator Bryan Hughes of Mineola is the lead author of the legislation and he tells us it could protect the most vulnerable Texans.
“The bill says, for that little baby growing inside her mother’s womb, when a heartbeat is detected, that her life is going to be protected,” said Hughes.
Legislative analysis says this can be as early as six weeks. We spoke with KLTV and KTRE OB-GYN Dr. Theresa Patton about what she sees within her own practice.
“It is true that between five to seven weeks of gestation is when we can start to see cardiac activity on a sonogram, right?” she said, “but I think that there’s a lot of misunderstanding for what that five to seven weeks means.”
Dr. Patton and the physicians within her practice don’t perform abortion services but as an OB-GYN she treats women through all stages of pregnancy. She explained a gestational period begins on the first day of the woman’s last menstrual cycle. That woman is not technically pregnant yet for roughly another two weeks until ovulation and the sperm fertilizes the egg. Then, an additional fourth week before a woman misses her next cycle.
“So you’ve got about a window of a week to two when you have to make a decision about what you want to do about this pregnancy, if you know it at the moment it’s possible to know,” said Dr. Patton.
There are some exceptions to the bill -- the biggest being in cases of extreme medical emergencies.
“If the life of the mother is in jeopardy, then of course, there’s an exception there,” said Hughes.
One loophole that doesn’t appear in Senate Bill 8 is to allow abortions for women who are victims of rape or incest.
“Rape and incest are just horrible things to think about and those things do happen,” said Hughes. “I think if we think through, I think we would agree that as horrible as that is, we wouldn’t want to make it worse by punishing that little unborn baby.”
This legislation would also allow anyone in Texas to sue an abortion provider, or anyone who knowingly helps someone get an abortion that violates the restrictions of the bill. This could result in civil lawsuits and fines in the tens of thousands.
Hughes says he believes this bill, if unchanged by the House, will make it to the Governor’s desk soon.