US President Joe Biden’s administration on Friday called on a federal judge to swiftly block a new law that bans most abortions in Texas and raised concerns about women’s low access to care.
The controversial statute, which went into effect on September 1, represents “an open threat to the rule of law,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Netter declared in court arguments in Austin.
In its challenge, the US government described the ban as “an extraordinary law designed to overthrow the federal government and violate the Constitution”, Netter said, adding “judicial intervention” necessary to enforce the law. until the matter was decided. .
Texas law, the most restrictive of its kind in the country, prohibits abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually at around six weeks of pregnancy, and does not allow exceptions in cases of incest or rape. gives.
Similar laws have been passed in other states in recent years, but they were repealed because they passed Roe v. Wade, a 1973 decision that guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion as long as the fetus was not viable outside the womb. 22 weeks of pregnancy.
The Texas law is unique in that it gives anyone the right to sue anyone who assisted in an abortion, which prompted Netter to accuse state officials of enabling the rule of “vigilant justice.” did.
The nine-judge Supreme Court, with its clear conservative majority, cited such “novel” procedural issues when it decided last month against intervening to block legislation, Texas Senate Bill 8, as did pro-choice advocates. had requested.
The federal government has entered the fray, citing its interest in upholding the constitutional rights of Americans.
Netter argued that while the United States seldom sues to challenge state laws, “this suit is necessary because SB-8 represents an unprecedented attack on the supremacy of the federal government, the federal constitution, and so on.” Is.”
Attorney William Thompson for the Texas Attorney General’s office accused Netter of “inflammatory rhetoric” and insisted the law respected the Supreme Court’s precedent.
But Judge Robert Pittman counterattacked: “If the state is so confident in the constitutionality of the limits on a woman’s access to abortion, why did it go to such great lengths to create this very unusual private cause of action?”
Pitman is expected to deliver a verdict in this case soon.
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