— From Staff and Wire Reports
Just hours after Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed new abortion restrictions that could close many of the state's clinics that provide the procedure, State Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, filed a bill to ban abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy.
King filed House Bill 59 which would ban abortions “if it has been determined… that the unborn child has a detectable heartbeat.” If passed, Texas would reportedly become just the second state in the nation to adopt a “fetal heartbeat” law.
The text of King's bill can be accessed here.
"This legislation has been considered by other states and was recently advocated by some pro-life groups during the current special session of the Texas Legislature," King said in a statement released Friday morning. "No hearings on the bill are anticipated before the Legislature adjourns at the end of this month. I filed the fetal heartbeat bill because the heartbeat of an unborn child is an important indicator that there is life, and that this life must be protected. Although the bill cannot be formally considered until the Legislature reconvenes in January of 2015, I hope its merit will be examined during the coming legislative interim."
Perry on Thursday signed into law the controversial bill that restricts abortions in Texas to no later than 20 weeks. The issue has drawn pro-choice and pro-life rallies attended by thousands to the State Capitol.
Supporters of the bill credited God's will and prayer as the governor signed the legislation, with protesters' chants of "Shame! Shame! Shame!" echoing from the hallway. Opponents have vowed to fight the law, though no court challenges were immediately filed.
"Today, we celebrate the further cementing of the foundation on which the culture of life in Texas is built upon," Perry told an auditorium full of beaming GOP lawmakers and anti-abortion activists. "It is our responsibility and duty to give voice to the unborn individuals."
The law restricts abortions to surgical centers and requires doctors who work at abortion clinics to have hospital admitting privileges. Only five of the 42 abortion clinics in Texas — the nation's second-largest state — currently meet those new requirements. Clinics will have a year to either upgrade their facilities or shut down after the law takes effect in October.
The law also bans abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, based on the disputed notion that fetuses can feel pain at that point of development, and dictates when abortion-inducing drugs can be taken.