Dozens of Texas lawmakers back anti-abortion ‘heartbeat bill’

February 15, 2019

AUSTIN — A push to effectively ban abortion by making the procedure illegal once a heartbeat is detected in a fetus is gaining support in the House with more than 40 lawmakers registering support, including several legislators who could advance the bill out of a key committee.

Seven of the bill’s supporters in the House sit on the 13-member House State Affairs Committee, which has historically vetted bills regarding abortion. That could give the measure enough support to propel it to a vote of the full 150-member House — should it be referred to that committee, which includes 12 men and one woman.

A heartbeat can be detected in a fetus at around six weeks, which is before some women know they are pregnant.

“Just as a heart is the universal sign of Valentine’s Day, a beating heart is the universal sign of life,” said the bill’s author, State Rep. Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park, in a statement. “I am humbled to see the growing wave of support this and other heartbeat bills are receiving across the country.”

Similar bills have been filed in more than a dozen states, including Florida, Tennessee and New York.

Texas is one of the leading states in the nation for curtailing access to abortion, and Legislators have filed more than a dozen other bills to further restrict abortion rights.

House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, who has a 100 percent voting record from Texas Right to Life, has yet to assign the heartbeat bill to a committee. The speaker could assign the measure to the House Human Services Committee, which oversees the Health and Human Services Commission. Of the nine members of that committee, four are official supporters of the bill.

Fourty-four members of the House are signed on either as authors or co-authors of the bill. See that list here.