Healthcare

Biden administration readies lawsuit over Texas abortion law: report

The Justice Department is planning to sue the state of Texas following a recently enacted law that bans abortions once a “fetal heartbeat” is detected, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Citing people familiar with the plans, the newspaper reported a lawsuit could be filed as early as Thursday, though the sources noted the timeline could be later.

It was not immediately clear what argument the department would make, but one source that spoke with the Journal predicted it would be that federal interests were illegally interfered with by the Texas law.

The Hill has reached out to Department of Justice for comment. 

Last week, the Supreme Court declined to block the Texas law, which effectively bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. It was signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbot on June 16 and became effective last week. 

The law empowers private citizens to enforce the measure, awarding them $10,000 each time they are able to successfully sue someone who carries out or facilitates an abortion.

President Biden called the law “almost un-American” last week.

Additionally, abortion rights advocates are concerned that states, empowered by the recent 5-4 Supreme Court decision last week, will introduced their own “copy cat” laws. 
 
Earlier this week, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a statement on the law, saying that the Department of Justice was going to explore its options in an effort to protect the constitutional rights of women seeking to have an abortion.
 

“While the Justice Department urgently explores all options to challenge Texas SB8 in order to protect the constitutional rights of women and other persons, including access to an abortion, we will continue to protect those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services pursuant to our criminal and civil enforcement of the FACE Act,” Garland said in a statement on Monday.

 
“The department will provide support from federal law enforcement when an abortion clinic or reproductive health center is under attack. We have reached out to U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and FBI field offices in Texas and across the country to discuss our enforcement authorities,” he added.

 

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee wrote to Garland on Tuesday following his statement, urging the department to take legal action against “would-be vigilantes” who may try to enforce the Texas law themselves. 

“We urge you to take legal action up to and including the criminal prosecution of would-be vigilantes attempting to use the private right of action established by that blatantly unconstitutional law,” the lawmakers wrote.

Tags Abortion Joe Biden Justice Department Merrick Garland Supreme Court Texas

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