Six-week abortion ban takes effect in Texas

A law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy has taken effect in the US state of Texas. US media say this is the strictest anti-abortion law in the country.

The law came into force on Wednesday after the US Supreme Court declined to act on a request by doctors and abortion-rights groups to block it.

The law passed in May bans abortion after heartbeat is confirmed in a fetus, unless there is a threat to the mother's life. Fetal heartbeat is normally detected at about six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even realize that they are pregnant.

Pregnancy resulting from rape or incest is no exception. In addition, private citizens can sue anyone who provides or aids an abortion. Not only doctors but anyone who takes a woman to a hospital to get an abortion may also be sued.

Texas doctors sought to block the law, saying that at least 85 percent of abortions in the state were conducted during or past the sixth week of pregnancy. They said abortion would become virtually impossible in Texas.

President Joe Biden said in a statement "This extreme Texas law blatantly violates the constitutional right established under Roe v. Wade," a landmark decision by the Supreme Court in 1973 protecting women's liberty to choose to have an abortion.

Abortion is an issue that has divided public opinion in the country and the Texas law is likely to have an influence on other states.