Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law Wednesday a measure that would prohibit in Texas abortions as early as six weeks. This time frame is before most women even know that they’re pregnant. The law takes effect in September.

“Our creator endowed us with the right to life and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion,” Abbott said in a bill signing ceremony, captured on videos posted on social media. The Legislature “worked together on a bipartisan basis to pass a bill that I’m about to sign that ensures that the life of every unborn child who has a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion.”

Other “heartbeat” bills have been passed by other states and held up by the courts, but the Texas bill is slightly different.

Instead of having the government enforce the law, private citizens can sue abortion providers. Citizens can also sue anyone who helps someone get an abortion after a fetal heartbeat has been detected. The person would not have to be connected to someone who had an abortion or to a provider to sue.

It’s highly unlikely that women will recognize their pregnancy that soon, which would cause an outpour of lawsuits against abortion providers. The law carves out an exception if a patient’s life is in danger, but not for a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest. People who sued would be awarded at least $10,000, as well as costs for attorney’s fees in a winning case.

“Every citizen is now a private attorney general,” Blackman said. “You can have random people who are against abortion start suing tomorrow.”
Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health says, “more legal chutes and ladders until we can figure out a strategy to try to block it” and called it unconstitutional.