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Bill filed to add rape and incest exemption to Texas’ new abortion restrictions

AUSTIN, Texas — Calling it a “common-sense fix” in response to criticism about the state’s new abortion restrictions, Republican Rep. Lyle Larson of San Antonio has filed a bill to add an exemption to the Texas “Heartbeat Act” for rape and incest survivors.

The call of the current special session in Austin does not include the new abortion law, but Larson is asking Gov. Greg Abbott to add it to the agenda.

Under the law, which went into effect Sept. 1, the vast majority of abortions have been blocked in Texas. The legislation outlaws abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, when a fetal heartbeat becomes detectable. Before the law went into effect,between 85% and 90% of abortions took place after this mark, according to Planned Parenthood.

Rather than criminal penalties, the law carries an enforcement mechanism whereby individuals are empowered to file lawsuits against anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion in Texas. This applies even in cases of rape and incest — with little exception.An amendment added to the bill by its House sponsor, GOP state Rep. Shelby Slawson of Stephenville, clarified that a person who impregnated an abortion patient through rape, incest or sexual assault could not bring a lawsuit under the measure.

Earlier this month, a reporter asked Abbott why such an exemption had not been written into the bill that passed during the regular session of the Texas Legislature earlier this year.

 

The law “provides at least six weeks for a person to be able to get an abortion,” the governor said in an answer that opponents of the legislation were quick to point out is false.

Although the new law prohibits people from seeking an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, they don’t have that whole period to make a decision and make arrangements for getting an abortion because it’s unlikely, and in many cases impossible, to detect and confirm a pregnancy before that time.

—The Dallas Morning News

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