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AUSTIN, Texas (LifeSiteNews) — Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has rejected a proposal to add exceptions for rape and incest to the heartbeat-based abortion ban the Lone Star State enacted in early September, making clear the law’s purpose was to “protect every child with a heartbeat.”

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.”

Last week, Republican state Rep. Lyle Larson, who voted for the heartbeat law, introduced legislation to add rape and incest exceptions, claiming in a letter to Abbott it was a “common sense fix” to recognize the “reality” that “none of us have the power to prevent rape in this state.” He also cited feedback from constituents across the political spectrum who supposedly demanded the change.  

“If that came to your desk, will you sign it or not?” Fox News host Chris Wallace asked Abbott in a Sunday interview.

“Well, we’ve go to go back to what the reason was why the law was passed in the first place. And the goal is to protect the lives of every child with a heartbeat,” Abbott responded. When pressed again, Abbott added, “you’re making a hypothetical that’s not going to happen because that bill is not going to reach my desk. But second, the goal is to protect every child with a heartbeat.”

In responding that Abbott “needs to rethink his decision,” Larson shared a headline from the far-left outlet Raw Story claiming that Abbott “allow[ed] 15,000 rapes” before signing the law, based on Wallace citing the number of Texas rapes in 2019. Wallace did not explain how Abbott supposedly “allowed” those rapes.

Texas Right to Life legislative director John Seago has previously said the group “strongly opposes” Larson’s bill, because “creating loopholes and exceptions, where not all unborn children would be treated equally, violates our pro-life principles,” and would undermine the law’s purpose “to protect the most vulnerable among us from the violence of elective abortion.”

The Texas Heartbeat Act’s unique enforcement mechanism has been credited for the U.S. Supreme Court’s surprising decision not to block it 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.

Ultimately, the fate of the Texas Heartbeat Act and other 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.

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