WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s administration sued Texas on Thursday, seeking to block the implementation of a new law that almost entirely bans abortion in the state, with Democrats fearing the right to abortion established almost 50 years ago is not threatened.
The United States Supreme Court last week overturned Texas law prohibiting abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, before many women realized they were pregnant.
While the ruling does not address the constitutionality of Texas law, it represents a major victory for social conservatives who have been trying to ban abortion since the Roe v. Wade of the 1973 court established the constitutional right to process.
Attorney General Merrick Garland called the Texas law “clearly unconstitutional.”
“This kind of plan to overturn the Constitution of the United States is one that all Americans, regardless of their politics or party, should fear,” Garland said. “If he wins, he can become a model for action in other areas by other states.”
Texas law relies on private citizens to enforce it by bringing civil suits against people who help a woman get an abortion after six weeks, whether it is a doctor performing the procedure or of a taxi driver driving a woman to a clinic.
The law allows people who sue to receive at least $ 10,000 and makes no exceptions for rape or incest, although there are narrowly defined exemptions for maternal health. Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott defended the law this week, saying the state “will eliminate all rapists.”
“Texas has passed a law that ensures that the life of every child with a heartbeat will be spared the ravages of abortion,” Abbott spokeswoman Renae Eze said in a statement. “We are confident that the courts will respect and protect this right to life.”
The online court record initially indicated that the case had been referred to U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in the Western District of Texas. But the role has been changed for US District Judge Robert Pitman. Pitman, appointed by former President Barack Obama, was due to consider blocking the entry into force of Texas law in August, but an appeals court stayed the proceedings.
FOCUS ON THE MISSISSIPPI CASE
The Supreme Court’s decision not to block Texas law last week has left abortion rights activists worried the court, on which the Conservatives hold a 6-3 majority, may be willing to overthrow Roe when he hears a case involving an abortion ban in Mississippi later this year.
Abortion opponents predicted that the Biden administration’s challenge to Texas law would ultimately fail. “Joe Biden has a long history of failing to protect unborn and pregnant women,” said Elizabeth Graham, vice president of Texas Right to Life. “His DOJ will quickly find out that he has no jurisdiction to stop the Texas Heartbeat Act.”
Because it takes several weeks before a pregnancy can be detected on a standard urine test, women in Texas might have just a week or two to request an abortion before being banned from doing so under the law. law. Some 85 to 90 percent of abortions take place after six weeks of pregnancy, and leaving the ban in place could result in clinics closing, abortion rights groups have warned.
Whole Woman’s Health, which has four clinics in Texas, praised the Biden administration’s decision.
“This is a monumental time for the federal government to step in and restore everyone’s rights to safe, high-quality abortion care,” Amy Hagstrom Miller, the group’s chief executive, said in a statement.
A majority of Americans think abortion should be legal, according to a Reuters / Ipsos poll. Some 52% said it should be legal in most or all cases, with just 36% saying it should be illegal in most or all cases.
But it remains a deeply polarizing issue, with a majority of Democrats supporting the right to abortion and a majority of Republicans opposing it.
Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; additional reporting by Jan Wolfe and Gabriella Borter; Editing by Scott Malone and Cynthia Osterman
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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