BREAKING: Justice Department sues Texas over new heartbeat abortion bill

The Justice Department has filed suit against Texas after the state passed a law which would ban most abortions after around six weeks, arguing that the state legislature acted in “open defiance of the constitution”.

The lawsuit comes after the Supreme Court voted 5-4 against blocking the new legislation {SB8} which bans abortion after a foetal heartbeat can be detected. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the suit on Thursday, which is filed in a federal district court in Austin, came as abortion right advocates, providers and a consortium of democratic lawmakers called on President Biden to take action.

“This act is clearly unconstitutional under long standing Supreme Court precedent,” Garland told reporters. “Those precedents hold, in the words of Planned Parenthood versus Casey, that ‘regardless of whether exceptions are made for particular circumstances, a state may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability.'”

Garland also said that the law had been constructed in such a way as to flout a person’s right to abortion as established by Roe v. Wade 1973. “This kind of scheme to nullify the Constitution of the United States is one that all Americans, whatever their politics or party, should fear,” Garland said. 

He noted that the law effectively “deputizes all private citizens without any showing a personal connection or injury to serve as bounty hunters authorized to recover at least $10,000 per claim from individuals who facilitate a woman’s exercise of our constitutional rights.”

Garland also argues that the law will have the very opposite effect than intended, “Because this statute makes it too risky for an abortion clinic to stay open, abortion providers have ceased providing services,” he said. “This leaves women in Texas unable to exercise their constitutional rights and unable to obtain judicial review at the very moment they need it.” 

 As part of the lawsuit, Garland said the DOJ is calling for an immediate court order to prevent the enforcement of SB8 across Texas. He also made it clear that the DOJ wouldn’t hesitate to act if other states “follow similar models”.

“The United States has the authority and responsibility to ensure that Texas cannot evade its obligations under the Constitution and deprive individuals of their constitutional rights by adopting a statutory scheme designed specifically to evade traditional mechanisms of federal judicial review,” the lawsuit says. “The federal government therefore brings this suit directly against the State of Texas to obtain a declaration that S.B. 8 is invalid, to enjoin its enforcement, and to protect the rights that Texas has violated.” 

Renae Eze, Gov. Greg Abbott’s press secretary, fired back soon after the suit was announced. In a statement Eze said “Unfortunately, President [Joe] Biden and his Administration are more interested in changing the national narrative from their disastrous Afghanistan evacuation and reckless open border policies instead of protecting the innocent unborn. We are confident that the courts will uphold and protect that right to life.”



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