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Heartbeat bill can’t be fixed

There is no fixing Senate Bill 8 and the damage Texas has inflicted to women’s rights.

Even Republican state Rep. Lyle Larson’s House Bill 99, which would provide exemptions for rape and incest survivors, is futile.

It has zero chance of passage. Beyond this, Senate Bill 8 is irredeemable. Sure, Larson’s bill would rightfully provide exceptions to SB 8 for rape and incest survivors. This would fix important concerns, and yet it misses the most important point. There should be no Senate Bill 8. The only acceptable outcome is for the law to be found unconstitutional.

America’s most stringent anti-abortion law — which Larson supported in the House — effectively places legal abortion out of reach for Texas women. But Roe v. Wade has not been overturned, and abortions, legal or not, will continue.

We know HB 99 has no chance of passage because Larson, sadly, lacks any standing in his own party, and Gov. Greg Abbott has said the bill will never reach his desk. Abbott told Fox News on Sunday the draconian law’s goal is to protect the heartbeat of every child.

Senate Bill 8 bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, typically about six weeks into a pregnancy — before most women know they are pregnant. Remarkably, it deputizes every American citizen as a potential bounty hunter.

The U.S. Supreme Court could have intervened before the law took effect Sept. 1, but a majority rejected an emergency appeal from abortion providers.

It’s incredible to think bounty hunters in other states could target women and girls here who are victims of rape and incest. Then again, this is Texas, where the rights of women, especially those who are low-income, aren’t valued.

Some context about rape and incest: According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, or RAINN, 1 in every 6 American women has been the victim of rape or attempted rape.

Larson’s bill will go nowhere, but it portends a particular legislative fallout from Senate Bill 8 should the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately uphold it. The longer SB 8 endures, the more lawmakers will be confronted with their cruelty and be forced to legislate to reality.

Women who have survived rape and incest will give birth to these children — and will share their stories. Some women will seek out illegal abortions and risk personal harm. Others will give birth at immense personal cost. As the landmark “Turnaway Study” from the University of California in San Francisco has shown, women who are denied abortions are more likely to be in abusive relationships, suffer from pregnancy complications and poor physical health, and live below the poverty line.

All of these concerns are why SB 8 cannot be fixed or made more palatable. It must be overturned.

* Guest editorial excerpt by the San Antonio Express-News.

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