The Biden administration formally asked a federal judge on Tuesday to halt enforcement of a new Texas law that effectively bans nearly all abortions in the state under a novel legal design that opponents say. The intent is to thwart the challenge of the court.
The US Justice Department’s 45-page emergency resolution seeks a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction to lift the abortion ban, while its lawsuit moves through the courts to challenge the statute as an unconstitutional proceeding.
The Republican-backed law forbids abortion after cardiac activity is detected in a fetus, usually starting at six weeks’ gestation, before many women even realize they are pregnant.
It does not provide any exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, although it does give narrowly defined exemptions to protect the health of the mother. Governor Greg Abbott, who signed the measure into law, defended it earlier this month, saying the state would “finish all rapists.”
The case is being watched closely after the US Supreme Court on September 1 granted a six-week abortion ban pending judicial review, sparking a firestorm of criticism from abortion rights advocates.
The High Court did not address the constitutionality of the Texas statute. But it was widely seen as a sign that the court’s conservative majority had rejected the historic 1973 Roe v. Wade’s decision, which guarantees a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy prior to the viability of the fetus at approximately 24 to 28 weeks’ gestation.
Abortion rights advocates were particularly outraged that the court left intact provisions of the Texas statute, known as SB8, they said were designed to avoid court challenges.
The law relies on private citizens rather than the state to enforce it by filing civil lawsuits against those who help a woman obtain an abortion after six weeks, whether it is the doctor who performs the procedure or a doctor who performs the procedure. Cabbie who drives a woman. Clinic. And it allows individuals who file such lawsuits to collect a reward of at least $10,000.
“Although SB8 was designed to create jurisdictional barriers to the ability of women and providers to sue to protect their rights, those constraints do not hinder the relief sought through this suit – Action taken by the United States against the State of Texas,” the DOJ resolution said.
Tuesday’s motion was filed with U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in the state capital Austin, assigned to a Justice Department trial that was brought on September 9 and ruled against Abbott in another major abortion case last year. Was.
Abortion foes have predicted that the Biden administration’s challenge to the latest Texas law will ultimately fail.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Sarah Ann Lynch in Washington; Editing by Michael Perry)