WASHINGTON — The Biden administration went to federal court Thursday hoping to block Texas’ ban on abortion as early as six weeks, blasting the state for deputizing legal “bounty hunters” to deter a procedure that remains legal, technically, under state law and Supreme Court precedent.
The ban on abortion as soon as a fetal heart beat can be detected — “months before a pregnancy is viable,” Attorney General Merrick Garland noted in announcing the challenge — clearly violates the constitutional rights of women in Texas, he said.
“Texas does not dispute that its statute violates Supreme Court precedent,” Garland added, but rather has crafted the measure “to thwart judicial review for as long as possible” by shifting enforcement from government to individuals.
“It is settled constitutional law that ‘a state may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability,’” according to the suit filed in Austin, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. “But Texas has done just that.”
Gov. Greg Abbott is confident the law will be upheld in court, said spokeswoman Renae Eze.
“The most precious freedom is life itself,” she said. “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.”
The new Texas law seeks to sidestep Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that has limited governmental restrictions on abortion since 1973, by deputizing enforcement to individuals and groups that oppose abortion.
Senate Bill 8 bars health care providers from performing an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. And it offers a $10,000 bounty for lawsuits against providers or anyone who “aids or abets” and abortion, a private enforcement action that could even target an Uber driver who transports a woman to a clinic.
If courts allow the Texas law to survive, it will signify the end to the Roe era.