Religious leaders oppose ‘heartbeat bill’ measures at the Texas Capitol
AUSTIN, Texas – The sound of a beating heart from the womb can be a highlight for expectant parents, but this sound shouldn’t be used to set a new standard of law according to religious leaders who organized a prayer circle in Texas State Capitol.
The group of abortion rights defenders was part of a demonstration organized by the Texas Freedom Network.
“We will never give up our individual conscience, our religious freedom or our right to choose that God has given us,” said Reverend Erika Forbes, an interfaith minister from Dallas.
“The same people who do this are blocking contraception, they are blocking a lot of public service neonatal care, it’s like you can’t slam doors in people’s faces without opening other doors.” , Reverend Jim Rigby with St. Andrews Presbyterian Church.
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The current abortion law is based on a Supreme Court ruling. Abortions are legal for up to 20 weeks, but not after a period called the viability point. Legislation passed by the Texas legislature could be used to challenge Roe v Wade.
“And so we think this bill goes to the basic premises of protecting life,” said Mary Elizabeth Castle with Texas Values, which supports the Heartbeat Bills, which would also allow abortion providers to be sued. “This bill is about protecting these babies, who are often just innocent bystanders, they haven’t even lived life yet, so we want to give them this chance to live.”
Opponents of SB 8 believe the legal liability is too broad. It is claimed that under the law, a rapist can prosecute their victim’s family members if they recommend an abortion. San Antonio pastor Andries Coetzee is concerned that legal liability may also apply to a church member.
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“The relationship between a parishioner and a pastor is a relationship of sacred trust and cannot be legislated. It cannot be legislated. As God alone is the Lord of conscience and not Caesar,” said Coetzee, who heads the San Antonio University Presbyterian Church.
SB 8 is expected to be debated in the House on Wednesday. In anticipation of this, a petition bearing the signatures of more than 200 doctors against the passage of the bill was sent to the Speaker of the House.