ATLANTA (LifeSiteNews) — In addition to temporarily stopping most abortions in the Lone Star State and putting more pressure on the U.S. Supreme Court to finally reassess its standing abortion jurisprudence, the Texas Heartbeat Act has sparked interest in similar laws in other states, including Georgia.
Signed in May and put into effect on September 1, the Texas Heartbeat Act requires abortionists to screen for a preborn baby’s heartbeat and prohibits abortion if a heartbeat can be heard (generally as early as six weeks), with exceptions only for medical emergencies.
Instead of having the state prosecute violators, the law “exclusively” empowers private citizens to bring civil suits against abortionists, punishable by a minimum of $10,000 in statutory relief per abortion plus whatever additional injunctive relief is deemed “sufficient to prevent the defendant from violating this chapter or engaging in acts that aid or abet violations of this chapter.”
This unique enforcement mechanism has been credited for the U.S. Supreme Court’s surprising decision not to block the law from taking effect, as well as the decisions of abortion chains Planned Parenthood and Whole Woman’s Health to temporarily suspend abortions past six weeks in the state.
While the legal dispute over the law is ongoing, the fact that it was able to avoid the block most pro-life laws face before implementation has inspired pro-life lawmakers across the country to follow Texas’s lead.
“We have one of the strongest pro-life laws in the nation, but it’s not in effect,” senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller said Thursday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. “Because of the courts, it’s not currently saving the lives it was intended to save. If the Texas model allows us to move forward with a pro-life law, I’ll work to get it done.”
Miller, who is currently running in the Republican primary for lieutenant governor, was referring to a 2019 law that also bans abortions once a heartbeat is detected, but relies on more conventional state enforcement. It remains enjoined from taking effect, with a hearing slated for September 24.
“While our 2019 ‘heartbeat bill’ is still being litigated and we’re committed to seeing that law go into effect, the prospect of a Texas-style law going into effect may be too good for many to pass up,” added Georgia Life Alliance executive director Joshua Edmonds. “This would just be a stop-gap until our original ‘heartbeat bill’ eventually goes into effect.”
LifeSiteNews has previously reported that Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson says lawmakers in the Sunshine State are “already working on” a similar law.
Ultimately, the fate of the Texas and Georgia laws, as well as the fates of all direct abortion bans, will be decided by the Supreme Court, whether in a future lawsuit about the substance of the law or in an upcoming case concerning Mississippi’s ban on abortion at 15 weeks. All interested parties are anxiously awaiting such a showdown, as it is expected to be the most conclusive test yet as to just how pro-life the Supreme Court’s current majority truly is.