AUSTIN – Hours after Governor Rick Perry signed pro-life legislation into law late last week, three Texas lawmakers proposed a new bill that would protect unborn babies as soon as fetal heartbeats are detected.
As previously reported, Governor Perry officially signed House Bill 2 (HB2) on Thursday after it cleared both houses of the Texas legislature. The bill calls for higher medical standards in abortion facilities, increased regulations on abortion-inducing drugs, and a ban on most abortions following 20 weeks gestation.
On the very same day of HB2’s signing, Texas Representative Phil King filed House Bill 59 (HB59)—another pro-life measure that would criminalize the killing of unborn children when a fetal heartbeat is detectable in the womb. Though King is HB59’s primary author, Representatives Dan Flynn and Geanie Morrison are both joint authors of the legislation.
“[A] person may not knowingly perform or induce or attempt to perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of the unborn child if it has been determined … that the unborn child has a detectable heartbeat,” the bill reads.
In most pregnancies, the infant’s heart begins beating near the fifth week of pregnancy, which is usually around 22 days after conception. By citing statistics that show over 90% of pregnancies survive the first trimester if fetal heartbeats are detected, the HB59 authors call heartbeat initiation “a key medical predictor that an unborn child will reach live birth.”
Similar “heartbeat legislation” has recently been passed in Arkansas, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, but all three of those states’ pro-life bills are currently facing legal challenges.
Under HB59, any abortionists who kill unborn children after a heartbeat is detected would face fines of up to $10,000. The only exception to the rule would be if the abortion “is designed or intended to prevent the woman’s death or prevent a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the woman.”
All three authors of HB59 have shown resolve over the years to support pro-life values. In a statement released earlier this month, Representative King voiced his support for the aforementioned HB2, stating that he “look[s] forward to continuing to stand up with my colleagues in the legislature to defend the life of the precious and defenseless unborn.”
“Our founding fathers realized that ‘Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness’ were among the most essential of the unalienable rights bestowed upon us by our Creator,” he wrote. “Over the past several weeks a debate has been raging in Austin over the first and greatest of these enumerated rights: life.”
Though King, Flynn, and Morrison would like to see HB59’s measures implemented as soon as possible, they designed the ban on fetal heartbeat abortions as a “trigger measure,” meaning it would only go into effect after one of the following criteria is met:
–The United States Supreme Court has issued a decision overruling Roe v. Wade;
–Any other state or federal court has issued an order or judgment restoring, expanding, or clarifying the authority of states to wholly or partly prohibit or regulate abortion under the U.S. Constitution; or
–An amendment to the U.S. Constitution that restores, expands, or clarifies the authority of states to wholly or partly prohibit or regulate abortion has been adopted.
On the same day HB59 was filed, the left-wing group Think Progress published an article on their website, claiming the bill’s measures are “so radical that they divide the anti-choice community.” Several individuals weighed in on the issue in the comments section, calling the bill “a ploy by heartless Republicans,” “just hideous,” “misogynistic,” and a product of “Taliban Republicans.”
However, Representative Flynn wrote in a recent newsletter to his constituents that he is willing to stand for Biblical values, even when there is opposition.
“We seem to be fighting harder than ever before to maintain the principles of the Judeo Christian values that this great country was founded upon,” he stated. “They are clearly listed throughout our Declaration of Independence, Constitution as well as the Federalist Papers written by our Founding Fathers. I want to remind all that this is not something new even though it seems more intense today. The Scriptures say ‘We are troubled on every side yet not distressed, perplexed but not in dismay, cast down but not destroyed.’”