The US Justice Department on Thursday sued Texas over the state’s new abortion law. The Department is arguing that the law, which bans most abortions in the Lone Star state, was enacted in open defiance of the Constitution.
In the lawsuit filed on Thursday in the federal court in Texas, the Justice Department has requested a federal judge to declare the law invalid, “to enjoin its enforcement, and to protect the rights that Texas has violated,” the Associated Press reported.
Pressure had been mounting on the Justice Department from the White House as well as the Democrats in Congress, who wanted Attorney General Merrick Garland to take action. President Joe Biden has said the law is “almost un-American”. Earlier this week, Garland vowed the Justice Department would step in to enforce a federal law known as the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.
That law, commonly known as the FACE Act, normally prohibits physically obstructing access to abortion clinics by blocking entrances or threatening to use force to intimidate or interfere with someone. It also prohibits damaging property at abortion clinics and other reproductive health centers.
The Texas law prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, usually around six weeks — before some women know they are pregnant. Courts have blocked other states from imposing similar restrictions, but Texas’ law differs significantly because it leaves enforcement up to private citizens through civil lawsuits instead of criminal prosecutors.
Texas abortion providers and reproductive rights groups said 85% to 90% of the procedures happen there after the sixth week of pregnancy, as per the Guardian.
Abortions in Texas and other Red states has always been difficult. As per media reports, people travel outside the state to get the procedure done.
Researchers at the University of Texas said the law would particularly affect Black patients and people living on low incomes.