The Biden administration plans to sue Texas for the state’s extreme abortion law, which equates to an almost total ban on abortion, according to a report.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the justice department could file a lawsuit Thursday, just over a week after the law went into effect.
Senate Bill 8, pushed by the Texas Republican-dominated legislature, bans abortion once embryonic cardiac activity is detected, which lasts about six weeks. Most women do not know they are pregnant at that time.
According to the Journal, the justice department will argue that the law, which offers no exceptions for rapes or incest, “illegally interferes with federal interests.”
On Monday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the justice department “would protect those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services,” according to a federal law known as Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances.
Garland said the law would be applied “to protect the constitutional rights of women and others, including access to an abortion.”
Texas law encourages any private citizen to sue an abortion provider or anyone who is believed to have helped a woman obtain an abortion that violates the law. It came into force on September 1 and survived an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court, which voted 5 to 4 to allow the law to remain in force.
Joe Biden condemned the new law and reaffirmed the White House’s support for abortion rights. “This extreme Texas law blatantly violates the constitutional right established under Roe v Wade and confirmed as a precedent for nearly half a century,” Biden said in a statement.
Since then, the Biden administration has been pressured to act, and House Judiciary Democrats wrote to Garland on Tuesday.
“The Department of Justice cannot allow private individuals who want to deprive women of the constitutional right to choose an abortion to escape the scrutiny of existing federal legislation simply because they are trying to do so under the color of state law.” wrote Democratic members of Congress, which include Pramila Jayapal, representing Washington, and Val Demings, Florida.
Texas law has been the strictest legislation enacted against abortion rights in the United States since the Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973. At least 12 other states have enacted bans early in pregnancy, but all they have been prevented from entering into force.
Abortion providers have said the law will likely force many abortion clinics in Texas to close. Women’s rights advocates fear the Conservative-dominated Supreme Court’s failure to act on the law could signal the start of Roe’s unraveling against Wade.