The Justice Department has asked a Texas federal court to stop enforcement of a new state law that bans most abortions in the state while it adjudicates the case.
Texas law, known as SB8, prohibits abortions once healthcare professionals can detect heart activity – typically around six weeks, before some women know they are pregnant. Courts have prevented other states from imposing similar restrictions, but Texas law differs significantly as it leaves enforcement to private citizens through civil suits instead of criminal prosecutors.
The law came into effect earlier this month after the Supreme Court dismissed an emergency appeal from abortion providers asking that the law be suspended.
In Tuesday night’s emergency motion in United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, the Department of Justice said “a court may issue a temporary restraining order. or a preliminary injunction as a means of preventing prejudice to the claimant before the court can fully rule on the disputed claims.
The case was turned over to US District Judge Robert Pitman.
Last week, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit in Texas asking a federal judge to declare the law invalid because it unlawfully infringes on women’s constitutional rights and violates the Constitution’s supremacy clause, which says the law is invalid. Federal law prevails over state law.
The ministry made a similar argument by seeking the restraining order or temporary injunction and said its challenge would likely be successful.
“Where other states have enacted laws restricting reproductive rights to the extent that SB 8 does, courts have directed the laws to be enforced before they can come into force. In an effort to avoid this outcome, Texas has devised an unprecedented program that seeks to deny women and claimants the opportunity to challenge SB 8 in federal court. This attempt to protect a clearly unconstitutional law from revision cannot stand. “
Under Texas law, someone could take legal action – even if they have no connection to the woman having the abortion – and could be entitled to at least $ 10,000 in damages. ‘he wins in court.
Texas law is the nation’s biggest curb on abortion since the Supreme Court ruled in the landmark Roe v. Wade of 1973 that women have a constitutional right to abortion.
Abortion providers have said they will comply, but already some of Texas’ roughly two dozen abortion clinics have temporarily stopped offering abortion services. Clinics in neighboring states, meanwhile, have seen an increase in the number of patients from Texas.
In a medical abortion, a pregnant person can terminate their pregnancy by taking mifepristone and misoprostol pills after medical consultation. Danielle Campoamor explains how the drugs work and how to check if they are legal in your state.