Abortion Laws Are Strictest in These 13 States

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed new legislation on Wednesday that will ban abortion at the onset of a fetal heartbeat, which can occur as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

The ban is one of the strictest abortion laws in the country, as most women are not even aware they are pregnant by the time of the onset of a heartbeat.

The legislation, known as the "heartbeat ban" abortion bill, was signed into law by Abbott on Wednesday afternoon, and will take effect in the state from September.

Speaking after he signed the bill into law, Abbott said: "Our creator endowed us with the right to life and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion. In Texas, we work to save those lives. And that's exactly what the Texas legislature did this session."

The bill, which requires abortion providers to check for a fetal heartbeat before performing an abortion, makes exceptions "if a physician believes a medical emergency exists," but does not do so for victims of rape or incest.

Several abortion rights groups and advocates have slammed the bill, with Planned Parenthood Action Fund releasing a statement describing the legislation as "dangerous" and one of the "harshest abortion bans in the country."

Diana Gómez, advocacy manager at Progress Texas, echoed Planned Parenthood's claim, writing in a statement that "this abortion ban contains some of the most extreme abortion restrictions in the country."

States have modified their abortion laws to limit the procedure in multiple different ways since the Supreme Court handed down its 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that the Constitution protects a pregnant woman's liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.

This year has seen several states sign stricter abortion laws, with Oklahoma, Idaho and South Carolina also banning the medical procedure at the onset of a fetal heartbeat.

Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana are even stricter, as they ban abortion at six weeks, with Missouri not far behind as the procedure is prohibited at eight weeks of gestation.

Arkansas also passed legislation in 2021 that would make abortion in the state an unclassified felony unless a procedure is undertaken to save the life of a pregnant woman.

The strictest abortion law in the U.S. is in Alabama, as legislation signed in 2019 bans the procedure at any stage of a pregnancy, with doctors facing the possibility of life imprisonment for performing one.

The law, which was signed in 2019, is not yet in effect as multiple lawsuits were brought by abortion rights advocates, causing District Court Judge Myron Herbert Thompson to issue an injunction against the bill.

Outright bans are not the only barrier to getting abortion in the U.S., as the lack of clinics in several states makes it difficult for women to obtain them.

Six states, Mississippi, Missouri, Kentucky, South Dakota, North Dakota and West Virginia, only have one abortion clinic left, making it very difficult for residents to get the procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Although multiple states have passed stricter abortion bills since 2019, a majority of the laws have not yet taken effect due to court challenges to them or delayed effective dates.

Newsweek has contacted Planned Parenthood and Progress Texas for comment.

Roe Vs Wade abortion laws
Roe v Wade news headline with gavel on a copy of the United States Constitution. Texas signed into law a ban on abortion's at the onset of the fetal heartbeat on May 19 2021. zimmytws/iStock / Getty Images Plus