Paul J. by Weber | The Associated Press
AUSTIN, Texas — The Biden administration said Friday it would move the US Supreme Court in another attempt to block a Texas law that has banned most abortions since September.
The move comes as Texas clinics are going out of their way to block a GOP-engineered law that bans abortions after cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks. This is the country’s biggest curb on abortion in nearly 50 years and rape or incest cases are no exception.
Going to the Supreme Court, the Justice Department is taking the route the clinic has sought because other legal challenges have failed. Meanwhile, Texas women have turned to abortion clinics in neighboring states, driving some hours past midnight and that includes patients under the age of 12.
Jeffrey Honors, president of Planned Parenthood South Texas, said, “People are scared, confused, and have nowhere to access safe, legal abortion, other than very early abortions, unless they’ve traveled hundreds of miles to another state.” not be able to travel.” Clinics have stopped providing all abortion services since the law took effect on September 1.
The latest defeat for the clinics came Thursday night when a federal appeals panel in New Orleans, in a 2-1 decision, allowed restrictions to be imposed for the third time in the past several weeks. Justice Department spokesman Anthony Cooley said the federal government would now ask the Supreme Court to roll back that decision, but did not say how soon.
The court had already allowed the sanctions to take effect, but did so without deciding on the constitutionality of the law.
The Texas Attorney General’s office called Thursday night’s decision by the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals “testament that we are on the right side of the law and life.”
A 1992 Supreme Court decision barred states from banning abortions before viability, at which point the fetus can survive outside the womb, around 24 weeks of gestation. But Texas law has so far outstripped the courts because it closed enforcement to private citizens. Anyone who brings a successful lawsuit against an abortion provider for violating the law is entitled to claim at least $10,000 in damages, which the Biden administration calls a reward.
Only once has a court stepped in to put restrictions on hold – and that order was for just 48 hours.
During that brief window, some Texas clinics rushed to perform abortions on patients over the past six weeks, but many more appointments were canceled after the 5th Circuit moved to swiftly reinstate restrictions last week.
There were about two dozen abortion clinics in Texas before the law took effect, and operators have said some could be forced to close if restrictions remain in place for longer.
Texas Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group, established a tip line to get charges against abortion providers but has not filed any lawsuits. Kimberlynn Schwartz, a spokeswoman, said Thursday that the group hopes the Biden administration moves to the next Supreme Court and is “confident that Texas will ultimately defeat these attacks on our life-saving efforts.”
The stakes are already high in the months ahead over the future of abortion rights in America. In December, the new conservative majority on the Supreme Court in Mississippi’s historic Roe v. Wade’s ruling that guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion.
On Wednesday, 18 state attorneys general from mostly GOP-controlled states threw new support behind the Texas law, urging the court to erect sanctions, accusing the federal government of bringing up the challenge in the first place. Last month, more than 20 other states, mostly run by Democrats, urged a lower court to throw out the law.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland called the law “clearly unconstitutional” and warned that it could become a model elsewhere in the country unless it is repealed.