The Justice Department under President Joe Biden is challenging the newly established Texas abortion law in court for its "unconstitutional" conditions. Senate Bill 8 (SB8), which took effect on Sept. 1, 2021, prohibits abortions in pregnancies as early as six weeks.
Attorney General Merrick Garland filed the lawsuit in a federal court Thursday, seeking to invalidate the abortion law. In a statement, Garland said that no state should "deprive individuals of their constitutional rights" by enforcing legislation "designed to prevent the vindication of those rights." The complaint also cited that the Texas abortion law is an "open defiance of the Constitution" as it bans nearly all abortion procedures.
SB8 has a unique provision that allows private individuals, instead of state officers, to sue abortion providers. Garland said in the 30-page complaint that this rule empowers the people to become "bounty hunters" who go after women and the people assisting them in the abortion. Garland said that if the Texas abortion law prevails, other states could follow and disregard the constitutional rights of more women.
No Exception for Rape or Incest Pregnancies
The Texas abortion law doesn't make any exceptions apart from medical emergencies. This means that women who get pregnant because of rape or incest may also be sued if they abort the baby at six weeks.
Gov. Greg Abbott defended leaving out exceptions for rape or incest cases during a press conference. He said that the law doesn't require women who become abuse victims to carry on with the pregnancy term since his government will "eliminate rape."
"Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists," the governor said. "So goal No. 1 in the State of Texas is to eliminate rape so that no woman - no person - will be a victim of rape."
But Brett Ligon, a Republican district attorney in Montgomery County, said that eliminating rapists in Texas cannot realistically happen. Most victims will also refuse to come forward because of the stigma attached to their situation.
More often than not, women, regardless of how they got pregnant, find out that they're with a child past the sixth week of pregnancy; thus, they won't be able to get an abortion in Texas. Abortion providers said that this would constitute 85 percent of the procedures.
An Audacious Step
Meanwhile, the Texas abortion law supporters called the lawsuit an "audacious overstep from the Biden administration." John Seago of the Texas Right to Life anti-abortion group said that the complaint violates Texas's ability to act on the issues faced by its constituents.
Renae Eze, the state's press secretary, said that the Biden administration is more interested in saving face for the Afghanistan evacuation and the reopening of borders, but it won't uphold the policies that protect the innocent.
Abortion providers hailed the Department of Justice's move as many patients are denied access to receive this specific essential medical care in Texas. Planned Parenthood Federation of America thanked the Biden administration for its action, especially after the Supreme Court denied the organization's bid to stop the enforcement of the Texas abortion law.
Related Article: Texas Abortion Law: Supreme Court Won't Block Six-Week Abortion Ban
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