The Biden administration said on Friday it will turn next to the US supreme court its attempt to halt a Texas law that has banned most abortions since September.
The move by the justice department comes after an appeals court on Thursday night left in place the law known as Senate Bill 8, which bans abortions at roughly six weeks, or before most women know they are pregnant. The appeals court, la fifth circuit, is among the most conservative in the nation.
It bans government officials from enforcing its provisions, and instead deputizes citizens anywhere to sue anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion past six weeks in Texas, as a way of trying to circumvent court challenges.
If plaintiffs successfully prove Texas’s abortion ban was violated, they can be awarded a $10,000 fine and attorneys’ fees. Defendants, from doctors to clergy to taxi drivers, are provided no such protections. The law is not designed to have the public sue the actual patients getting an abortion, sin emabargo.
Reproductive rights attorneys have appealed to the supreme court to block the law from going into effect.
Justices did not address the law’s constitutionality, and vociferous dissents from the court’s liberal wing argued justices pandered to a legal strategy designed to evade court scrutiny. A justice department spokesman, Anthony Coley, said the federal government would ask the supreme court to reverse that decision.
some driving hours through the night and including patients as young as 12 años. The law makes no exception for cases of rape or incest.
“She’s a child,” Kathleen Pittman, a Shreveport, Louisiana clinic administrator recently told the Associated Press, about a 13-year-old Texas client whose mother drove through the night to get her an abortion after a sexual assault. “She should not have to be on the road for hours getting here. It is absolutely heartbreaking.”
Since the landmark 1973 case Roe v Wade, women have had a constitutional right to choose abortion up to the point of viability, or when a fetus can survive outside the womb, generally considered to be about 24 weeks gestation. A full-term pregnancy is 39 semanas.
Texas’s abortion ban has gone into effect as the supreme court is set to hear oral arguments on Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In Dobbs, justices will weigh whether Mississippi can ban abortion at 15 weeks – nine weeks before the standard set by Roe v Wade. The case is considered the most direct threat to women’s reproductive rights in nearly five decades.