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September 18, 2021

News West

West Coast News Network

Justice Department sues Texas to block abortion law

Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland announced Thursday the Department of Justice is challenging a controversial Texas abortion law that bans the procedure after about six weeks, well before most women know they are pregnant.

The action comes as the Biden administration has been facing pressure from Democrats to block the law, especially after the Supreme Court last week allowed it to take effect.

Garland said the Texas law violates the 14th Amendment and the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which gives it precedence over state constitutions.

“The Department of Justice has the duty to defend the Constitution of the United States and uphold the law. Today we defend that duty,” he said.

The law prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity. Other states have attempted unsuccessfully to pass similar bans, but what distinguishes this one is that it essentially taps private citizens to enforce it, allowing them to sue medical professionals or others who assist in an abortion. Plaintiffs can recover $10,000 or more in damages and have their legal fees reimbursed by the defendants. The law is structured in a way that also makes it difficult to be challenged in court, frustrating abortion rights advocates and providers.

“The United States has the authority and the responsibility to ensure that no state can deprive individuals of their constitutional rights through a legislative scheme specifically designed to prevent the vindication of those rights,” Garland said Thursday.

President Biden last week called the new law “almost un-American” and asked his Justice Department to examine whether it had any power to have it invalidated.

“I have been and continue to be a strong supporter of Roe v. Wade, number one,” Biden said. “And the most pernicious thing about the Texas law, it sort of creates a vigilante system.”

Abortion rights advocates said the Texas law violates the Roe vs. Wade decision, which overturned a Texas abortion ban in 1973 and said women had the right to end a pregnancy.

Abortion opponents have hailed the law a turning point for the movement in America.

Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, said last week that “States have the right to act on what science and ethics clearly tell us, which is that these children have their whole life ahead of them and deserve our protection.”

Following Garland’s announcement Thursday, Helene Krasnoff, vice president for public policy and litigation at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the abortion rights advocacy group was “heartened to see the Biden administration stepping in” because the Texas law “flies in the face of 50 years of precedent and has made abortion virtually inaccessible in the state of Texas.”

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