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State leaders say legal consequences are possible under 'Heartbeat Bill' even during suspension

The Heartbeat Bill was met with several challenges early on, and it continues to face opposition. The judge's ruling being the latest obstacle.

BEAUMONT, Texas — A federal judge in Austin is the latest to challenge Senate Bill 8, also known as the Texas Heartbeat Bill. Judge Robert Pitman has ruled to suspend the bill which bans most abortions.

The Heartbeat Bill was met with several challenges early on, and it continues to face opposition. The judge's ruling being the latest obstacle.

Abortions aren't set to resume right away as there could be legal consequences under the bill even during this suspension.

Two state representatives said this temporary halting of Senate Bill 8 won't last long.

"We have these three God-given rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And without life, you can't do the other two," said Representative James White (R-Hillister).

White was a key player in passing the Heartbeat Bill.

He said he and other Republican lawmakers knew the bill would face heavy opposition after it went into effect on September 1.

"We know that there's a lot of hostility against pro-life legislation, so we knew it was going to get challenged in court," White said.

White also said the judge's ruling will likely be overturned by the conservative heavy U.S. fifth circuit court of appeals.

Rep. Joe Deshotel (D-Beaumont) said while he wishes we didn't have to have abortions, he understands both sides of the issue.

"It's a very, very personal, very, very difficult decision I would imagine. It's one that I can't make," Deshotel said.

While Deshotel also believes Pitman's ruling will be overturned once it hits the Fifth Circuit Court, he himself questions the constitutionality of the Heartbeat Bill and the lawmakers' reasons for signing it into law.

"I don't consider them pro-life,” Deshotel said, “I consider them to be pro-birth because once that baby is born they won't vote to expand Medicaid. They won't vote to expand insurance. They won't vote to expand post-partum care for women."

Deshotel urges doctors and women to hold out on abortions, even during this suspension, due to the way the Heartbeat Bill is written. They can be sued after the fact if they carry out these abortions right now.

Southeast Texas attorney David Starnes agrees that now is not the time to resume abortions following the judge's ruling.

"If a doctor decides they're gonna go ahead and go forward now based upon this federal judge in Austin's ruling and they perform an abortion, and then the United States Court of Appeals sets aside that ruling, well then the private citizens can sue him for the fines that are imposed by the act," Starnes said.

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