The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas over its recently enacted law that bans most abortions.
Government lawyers in the 27-page suit, obtained by The Epoch Times, assert the law runs counter to previous Supreme Court rulings, including Roe v. Wade, which found that access to abortion is a constitutional right.
The law in question, Senate Bill 8, requires doctors to test for a fetal heartbeat before an abortion is performed. If a heartbeat is detected, doctors cannot carry out abortions unless they find a medical emergency exists that threatens the pregnant mother’s life.
If they do, they can be sued by private citizens, as can anybody accused of aiding and abetting an illegal abortion.
State officials, meanwhile, cannot enforce the law.
“The act is clearly unconstitutional under longstanding Supreme Court precedent,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said during a news conference in Washington announcing the suit. “Those precedents hold in the words of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, ‘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.’”
Another concern is that the law conflicts with federal statutes relating to providing abortion services, exposing federal employees to lawsuits, Garland added. He cited as examples work done by the Department of Labor with its Job Corps program and the Department of Defense’s TRICARE health program.
In an emailed statement to The Epoch Times, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s press secretary Renae Eze said that “The most precious freedom is life itself.”
“Texas passed a law that ensures that the life of every child with a heartbeat will be spared from the ravages of abortion. Unfortunately, President 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,” she added.
Abortion providers tried getting the law blocked before it took effect on Sept. 1, but courts ruled against them. The Supreme Court, after the law took effect, ruled against ordering a preliminary injunction, though justices said they weren’t ruling on whether the law was constitutional.
Hours later, President Joe Biden said he’d directed federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, to analyze the law to see what the federal government could do “to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions as protected by Roe, and what legal tools we have to insulate women and providers from the impact of Texas’ bizarre scheme of outsourced enforcement to private parties.”
Some activists said the federal government’s reaction was an overreach and questioned why the Biden administration was not adhering to the Supreme Court ruling.
“The court system is the proper channel for this to move through, and that is where the challenge to the law is moving through and they’re trying to go around that,” Rebecca Parma, senior legislative associate at Texas Right to Life, a pro-life group, told The Epoch Times this week.
But Democrats cheered the suit, including Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), saying she applauded Biden and the Department of Justice “for fighting against the draconian Texas abortion ban and working to ensure federal civil rights laws are protected everywhere in America.”