TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A Texas law banning most abortions in the state took effect at midnight, and the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to act on an emergency appeal to put it on hold.
Michelle Simpson Tuegel, a victims' and womens' rights attorney said, "We need to stop this before it starts."
But supporters like Jonathan Saenz, President of Texas Values said, "It's real simple. If an unborn baby's heartbeat is detected, that life is protected."
If allowed to remain in force, the Fetal Heartbeat law would be the most dramatic restriction on abortion rights in the United States since the high court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion across the country in 1973. The Texas law, signed by Republican Governor Greg Abbott in May, would prohibit abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually around six weeks and before most women even know they're pregnant.
In a separate legal matter Tuesday on the same bill, a judge in Austin decided that the group Texas Right To Life couldn't file suit against certain parties that provide abortion related services.
But the judge didn't block the law from going into effect Wednesday.
Under the law, doctors must check for a heartbeat before performing an abortion.
Government entities won't be able to enforce the law, and instead, citizens can file lawsuits against abortion providers if they suspect them of breaking the law.
Saenz said it will save 55,000 abortions from happening in Texas each year.
Simpson Tuegel said this law will have a chilling effect on a woman's right to choose under federal law. "It is used as a tool of harassment to prevent people like rape victims from accessing legal services or accessing the medical care they need and having the choices that they need when something that like that happens."
Saenz said, "We expect this approach to not only hold here in the Texas heartbeat law, but we expect other states are going to follow this type of effort and this type of mechanism as well in law."
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