Abortion becomes key issue in Texas campaign season

(NewsNation) — In the state of Texas, a new abortion trigger law says performing the procedure is now a felony punishable by up to life in prison.

The state already had a law that bans abortions once a heartbeat has been detected, which experts say occurs around six weeks, before some women even know they are pregnant.

The new trigger law went into effect Thursday and is already a key issue in the state’s campaign season.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has celebrated restrictions on abortion and spoken out about his efforts to ban it.

Meanwhile, Abbott’s Democratic challenger, Beto O’Rourke, is using Abbott’s stance in his own campaign to let people know he will take a different stance on abortion if he is elected.

“An abortion ban with no exception for rape or incest. That is not us. That may be Greg Abbott. It is not the people of Texas. In fact, you will have reported that 82% of Texans, including 76% of Republicans, in this great state oppose his total abortion ban, with no exception for rape, and no exception for incest,” O’Rourke said in video obtained by NewsNation affiliate KXAN.

O’Rourke put another spotlight on the topic in one of his first TV ads in the race, which includes a voiceover saying that some women will die because of the ban.

Abortion has also come up in the race for Texas attorney general.

After the Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade in June, incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted: “Praise the Lord. Abortion is now illegal in Texas.” He also shut down his office that day and pushed for it to become an annual holiday.

Paxton’s Democratic opponent in November, Rochelle Garza, has campaigned on protecting Texans against the abortion ban and working to “make sure that doctors can continue saving lives without risking prison or losing their medical license.”

With the new trigger law in effect, Texas now has three significant abortion bans in place. The other two are a pre-Roe statute dating back to 1857 that bans the procedure, as well as Senate Bill 8, which allows private citizens to sue medical providers or anyone who helps a patient receive an abortion.

NewsNation affiliate KXAN contributed to this report.