pregnancy (illustration)
pregnancy (illustration) ISTOCK

A law imposing massive new restrictions on the practice of abortion went into effect in Texas Wednesday morning.

The law bans virtually all abortions after a heartbeat is detected in the fetus, which occurs in the sixth week of pregnancy. An exception was made for medical emergencies.

The law also grants citizens the right to pursue legal action against doctors who perform abortions or helps a woman obtain an abortion. Violators will be subject to a $10,000 fine.

“The life of every unborn child with a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said when he signed the bill into law in May.

The previous law in Texas dealing with abortion banned the practice after the 20th week of pregnancy. The new law, while similar to other 'heartbeat laws,' is now considered among the most restrictive in the US.

The Planned Parenthood organization, which advocates for and provides abortions, filed an emergency appeal with the US Supreme Court to block the law from going into effect on Monday. The court did not hear the case before the law went into effect.

Although surveys conducted by the PEW Research Institute showed that at least 60 percent of US citizens support a legal right to abortion, a poll conducted last April in Texas, which is considered a conservative state, said 50 percent of respondents support a ban on abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy.