Heartbeat bill

From left, State Rep. Shelby Slawson (R-Stephenville) and District 1 State Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), co-authors of the Texas Heartbeat Act gesture their hands into a heart, representing the bill.

The Texas Heartbeat Act is one step closer to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk after the House of Representatives passed the bill last week.

“Can’t wait to sign it,” Abbott tweeted Thursday as he thanked co-authors District 1 Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) and Rep. Shelby Slawson (R-Stephenville) for their leadership.

Hughes — who represents 16 counties including Harrison, Gregg, Marion, Smith, Panola, Rusk and Upshur — thanked Rep. Slawson for her “powerful” testimony and leadership as the bill went before the House Wednesday for a third reading and final passage.

“Thank you Shelby Slawson, and everyone for your constant prayers and support,” Hughes tweeted after the bill passed the House. “It will soon be on the desk of Governor Greg Abbott.”

According to the Texas Tribune, Slawson introduced the bill with a personal story, sharing that her mother was given a “dim prognosis of an abnormally developing baby” but carried the pregnancy to term — “and now 44 years and two days later, that little baby girl is standing in this chamber, her heart beating as strongly and as rapidly as it did all those years ago.”

“As she lays out before you, Senate Bill 8, the Texas Heartbeat Act,” Slawson added, to applause from other lawmakers, the Texas Tribune reported.

Senate Bill 8 and House Bill 1515, known as the Texas Heartbeat Act, aims at protecting the unborn baby in the mother’s womb.

“This bill will say when there’s a heartbeat detectable, that little baby is going to be protected from abortion,” Hughes, who represents this area, told the News Messenger before, describing it as a straight forward bill that makes sense.

The House passed the bill Wednesday with 81 in favor and 63 against.

According to Texas Right to Life, the oldest and largest pro-life organization in Texas, the Heartbeat Act is the strongest bill pro-life bill to ever reach the Texas House floor and a critical bill in the pro-life priority agenda.

“When passed into law, the Texas Heartbeat Act will abolish elective abortions as early as six weeks, when the preborn child’s heartbeat is detectable by the most common methods,” Texas Right to Life said in a statement. “The Texas Heartbeat Act is novel in approach, allowing for citizens to hold abortionists accountable through private lawsuits. No heartbeat law passed by another state has taken this strategy. Additionally, the bill does not punish women who obtain abortions.”

Texas Right to Life Senor Legislative Associate Rebecca Parma described its passing in the House as a historic day for the state of Texas.

“The House has taken bold and wise action to protect innocent preborn children in the womb,” Parma said in a statement.

Texas Right to Life applauded Speaker of the House Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) and all House members who voted to pass the Act.

“We also thank Representative Slawson for her sponsorship of the bill and Senator Hughes for authoring SB 8,” Texas Right to Life said.

The Senate initially passed the Heartbeat Act on March 30. The Act was set to receive a final procedural vote Thursday and subsequently return to the Senate for approval with amendments, Texas Right to Life noted.

“After the Senate approves again, the Texas Heartbeat Act will be sent to the governor’s desk for signing,” Texas Right to Life officials said.

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