In a major step against Texas Republican's anti-abortion (pro-life) movement, the Justice Department has asked a federal court in the state to stop the enforcement of a new law that bans most abortions. The DOJ asked the issue of a temporary restraining order to block enforcement of the controversial law.
The Texas law, known as SB8, prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity — usually around six weeks, before some women know they’re pregnant. Courts have blocked other states from imposing similar restrictions, but Texas’ law differs significantly because it leaves enforcement to private citizens through civil lawsuits instead of criminal prosecutors.
"The United States has the authority to seek redress from this Court against the State of Texas, particularly in light of the procedural obstacles that Texas erected to shield S.B. 8 from judicial scrutiny in suits by directly affected persons," government lawyers argued in briefs filed late Tuesday, as per CNN reports.
They further added that the law has "gravely and irreparably impaired women's ability to exercise their constitutional right to an abortion across the State."
This order from the DOJ came a week after it had filed a lawsuit in Texas asking a federal judge to declare that the law is invalid because it unlawfully infringes on the constitutional rights of women and violates the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, which says federal law supersedes state law.
The law went into effect earlier this month after the Supreme Court declined an emergency appeal from abortion providers asking that the law be stayed.
Under the Texas law, someone could bring a lawsuit — even if they have no connection to the woman getting an abortion — and could be entitled to at least $10,000 in damages if they prevail in court.
The Texas law is the nation’s biggest curb to abortion since the Supreme Court affirmed in the landmark 1973 decision Roe v. Wade that women have a constitutional right to an abortion.
President Joe Biden lambasted the Supreme Court's decision not to block a new Texas law banning most abortions in the state and directed federal agencies to do what they can to “insulate women and providers” from the impact.
With inputs from the Associated Press