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Texas governor signs law banning abortion at six weeks

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Pro-choice and anti-abortion activists demonstrate in front of the the US Supreme Court./AFP
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May 20, 2021 - 05:56 AM

WASHINGTON — The governor of Texas signed a bill on Wednesday that would ban abortion at six weeks — before many women even know they are pregnant.

“This bill ensures the life of every unborn child with a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion,” said Republican Governor Greg Abbott.

The Texas bill, which makes no exception for rape or incest, is the latest salvo by a conservative US state against abortion.

At least 10 other Republican-led states have passed similar legislation banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is usually around the sixth week of pregnancy.

All of the bills have been struck down by the courts because they violate the Supreme Court ruling authorizing abortion as long as the fetus is not yet viable, which happens at 22 to 24 weeks.

The signing of the Texas bill comes just days after the nation’s highest court agreed to hear a case that could pose a challenge to the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

The case involves a Mississippi law that prohibits abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy except in cases of a medical emergency or a severe fetal abnormality.

It will be the first abortion case considered by the Supreme Court since former president Donald Trump cemented a conservative majority on the nine-member panel.

Abortion divides the American population, with strong opposition especially among evangelical Christians.

The Texas law also authorizes a private citizen to sue abortion providers or anyone helping someone get an abortion.

“With its private cause-of-action provision, this bill is one of the most extreme in the country and sets a dangerous precedent,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “Access to abortion has never been more at risk.”

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