Justice Department Sues Texas Over Law Banning Abortions After Six Weeks

Attorney General Merrick Garland announces a lawsuit to block the enforcement of new Texas law that bans most abortions at the Justice Department in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Department of Justice has sued the state of Texas over a new law that bans abortions after about six weeks, before most people realize they are pregnant, all but halting the procedure in the country’s second-largest state.

The lawsuit says the state enacted the law “in open defiance of the Constitution.”

“The act is clearly unconstitutional under long-standing Supreme Court precedent,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said during a press conference Thursday afternoon. “Those precedents hold, in the words of Planned Parenthood v. Casey that ‘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.'”

The Justice Department is seeking a permanent injunction against the law from a federal court in the Western District of Texas. But it’s likely the Supreme Court will have the final word on the matter.

Garland noted the law deputizes private citizens “to serve as bounty hunters authorized to recover at least $10,000 per claim from individuals who facilitate a woman’s exercise of her constitutional rights.”

He pointed out the law has thus far had its intended effect.

“Because this statute makes it too risky for an abortion clinic to stay open, abortion providers have ceased providing services,” he said. “This leaves women in Texas unable to exercise their constitutional rights and unable to obtain judicial review at the very moment they need it.”

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SOURCE: NPR, Carrie Johnson and Barbara Sprunt

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