It seems that instead of satisfying Texas Republicans, the signing of HB2 just made them thirsty for more. Three Republicans filed a bill Thursday that would criminalize abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, about six weeks into a pregnancy — on the same day that Governor Rick Perry signed an abortion law closing down most of the state's clinics.
Bill HB59 (cheerily nicknamed the "heartbeat" bill) was filed by Reps. Phil King, Dan Flynn and Geanie Morris only hours after HB2 was signed, and would make it illegal to have an abortion once the unborn child has a detectable heartbeat. This often occurs as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women would even realize they were pregnant. Even worse? In order to detect a heartbeat so early into the pregnancy, doctors would have to use invasive ultrasound procedures, including a transvaginal probe. (Which, if you were wondering, is as bad as it sounds — it's even covered in a condom. Not traumatizing at all.)
The reason HB59 was filed in such a hurry? The Texas legislature is still in the middle of the special session specifically called in order to consider abortion bills. It'll finish at the end of the month, but in the meantime, lawmakers have been trying to rush through as many abortion restrictions as they can.
But it's still early days for HB59 (it hasn't even been recommended to a committee yet) so the chances that the bill will get through entire legislative process by July 31st are admittedly slim.
In March, a similar "heartbeat" bill was passed in North Dakota, making it the first state to ban abortions at so early a stage.