The Biden administration is pushing back against Texas’ controversial law that severely restricts abortion in the state.
The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas to invalidate the law that effectively bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The rule, which was signed into law in May, states that a pregnancy cannot be terminated after an ultrasound has detected what lawmakers defined as a “fetal heartbeat” even in cases of rape or incest. The law was met with opposition, but after the Supreme Court refused to block it last week, it took effect.
The Justice Department claims in its suit that the statute violates the constitution.
JUST IN: “After careful assessment of the facts and the law, the Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas,” Attorney General Garland says on restrictive Texas abortion law. https://t.co/V5bMModrrX pic.twitter.com/qOIjV65hvW
— ABC News (@ABC) September 9, 2021
Further, the suit alleges that Texas made the law harder to challenge in court by enabling ordinary citizens to serve as “bounty hunters” instead of relying on the state’s executive branch to enforce the law. The statute allows state residents to sue providers, physicians, nurses and even those who drive a woman to an abortion appointment for $10,000.
“It takes little imagination to discern Texas’s goal — to make it too risky for an abortion clinic to operate in the State, thereby preventing women throughout Texas from exercising their constitutional rights, while simultaneously thwarting judicial review,” the lawsuit states.
In addition to the issue of constitutional rights, the law conflicts with federal regulations by prohibiting federal agencies from carrying out their responsibilities related to abortion services.
The government is seeking a judgment stating that the law is “invalid, null, and void” and a permanent injunction preventing Texas from enforcing the law.
The Justice Department’s move was applauded by abortion proponents.
“This first step by the Department of Justice is critical to righting this injustice for the people of Texas, and to prevent this catastrophe from playing out in other states that have pledged to follow Texas’ lead,” said Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project, in a statement posted to the organization’s website.
Predictably, anti-abortion activists held the opposite view of the new lawsuit.
“President Biden and his administration need to quit trying to facilitate the killing of unborn babies,” said Laura Echevarria, director of communications at pro-life organization National Right to Life, in an email. “Instead, President Biden, AG Garland, and this administration should be doing everything they can to protect life and not destroy it.”
The lawsuit tees off the next step in the battle over abortion rights.
With an all-conservative majority on the Supreme Court, many have predicted that the landmark Roe v. Wade opinion, which legalized abortion nationally in 1973, would be cut down.
Texas’ success could galvanize other states that have attempted block abortions in the past. More than a dozen states have tried to enact laws similar to Texas’, but most were struck down in federal or state courts, Axios reported. Now, some of these states, including Arkansas, Mississippi and Iowa, could try again.
Since last week, one state has already started making moves to restrict access to abortion. On Tuesday, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) signed an executive order banning the use of telemedicine in the abortion process and changing the rules around the prescription and dispensation of chemical abortion drugs in the state.
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