Justice Department asks court for emergency order to block Texas' abortion ban

click to enlarge Women attend a San Antonio rally earlier this month against Texas' new abortion law. - Jaime Monzon
Jaime Monzon
Women attend a San Antonio rally earlier this month against Texas' new abortion law.
The Justice Department asked a federal judge late Tuesday to issue an order blocking enforcement of Texas' near-complete ban on abortions in the state.

The move intensifies a legal showdown between the Biden White House and Texas' Republican leadership, which championed controversial Senate Bill 8. That law, which went into effect two weeks ago, bans abortions at six weeks and empowers private citizens to sue anyone they suspect of helping a woman obtain one in violation of state rules.

In its emergency request, the Justice Department argued that the law violates women's constitutional right to obtain abortions. The filing argues that enforcement of SB 8 should be put on hold pending the outcome of a lawsuit the department filed last week challenging its constitutionality.

"This relief is necessary to protect the constitutional rights of women in Texas and the sovereign interest of the United States in ensuring that its States respect the terms of the national compact," the request states. "It is also necessary to protect federal agencies, employees and contractors whose lawful actions SB 8 purports to prohibit."

Texas officials had no immediate statement on the filing at press time.

In a statement, Planned Parenthood praised the Justice Department's action, saying the law forced it and other abortion providers to suspend offering the procedure in Texas for fear of frivolous lawsuits by anti-abortion crusaders.

“This is another welcome step forward in the fight for abortion access in Texas," said Helene Krasnoff, vice president for public policy litigation and law for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "We are grateful that the Department of Justice is bringing its full might to restoring Texans’ ability to exercise their constitutional right to abortion. For two weeks now, Texans have been forced to either cross state lines for care or carry a pregnancy against their will. They need relief now.”

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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