The fetal heartbeat bill (SB 8) will be read a third and final time in the Texas House Thursday after winning a majority of votes Wednesday amid controversy over its broad language that could bring an onslaught of lawsuits.
The bill would make it illegal to perform an abortion after a heartbeat is detected, which could be as early as six weeks.
More than 200 doctors signed a letter to the Texas House Tuesday—a third of them Houston doctors—saying they are "deeply concerned" about a section in the legislation allowing lawsuits against anyone who performs an abortion or helps make it possible. SB 8 would allow "any person" to sue someone who provides information or referrals for abortion.
The doctors are concerned the broad language could impede open conversations between doctors and patients.
"They could be sued by anyone," said FOX 26 legal analyst Chris Tritico. "It doesn’t even have to be that person who was given that referral or someone in that person’s family. It can be any individual. And so if I find out that a member of the clergy is referring someone to Planned Parenthood, I can sue that member of the clergy and potentially collect damages for that. It’s a very, very broad bill in its language."
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The ACLU sent a statement saying this legislation is the playbook for further dismantling Roe v. Wade.
Tritico says he’s confident the bill will pass and will end up in the lap of the U.S. Supreme Court.
"We need to put this in perspective for what it is, and this is the State of Texas joining every other conservative state in the nation in a race to the U.S. Supreme Court in an attempt to overturn Row versus Wade," said Tritico.
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Two amendments were made in the Texas House Wednesday. The Senate has to approve the changes to the legislation before the bill goes to the governor.