The Department of Justice on Thursday sued Texas over the state’s restrictive abortion law. The lawsuit comes after the Supreme Court, stacked 6-3 with conservative justices, last week refused to block the controversial abortion law from taking effect.
President Joe Biden had blasted the high court’s overnight ruling, saying it “insults the rule of law.” Attorney General Merrick Garland said at the time that the Justice Department was “evaluating all options to protect the constitutional rights of women, including access to an abortion.”Garland announced the civil lawsuit against Texas during a 3 p.m. ET press conference.
The law, which was signed into law in May by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, prohibits abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, which usually occurs around the sixth week of pregnancy. At that time, many women are still not aware that they have become pregnant.
The legislation, S.B. 8, includes an exception for medical emergencies, but not for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Abbott this week defended the law, and said his goal is to “eliminate rape so that no woman, no person, will be a victim of rape.”
Rather than put public officials or law enforcement in charge of enforcing the ban, the law empowers private citizens to file civil lawsuits against abortion providers or anyone who “aids or abets” in an abortion after the six-week threshold. Those lawsuits can yield at least $10,000 in “statutory damages” per abortion.