USA TODAY US Edition

DOJ seeks emergency order to block Texas ban

- Kevin Johnson

The Justice Department is seeking an emergency court order to block the enforcemen­t of a new Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks.

Government lawyers sought the relief late Tuesday, just days after suing the state over the restrictiv­e abortion law decried by the Biden administra­tion as a denial of basic reproducti­ve health care for women.

In the Tuesday filing, Justice argued that urgent action was necessary because the state had “devised an unpreceden­ted scheme that seeks to deny women and providers the ability to challenge (the law) in federal court.”

“This attempt to shield a plainly unconstitu­tional law from review cannot stand,” the Justice filing said.

Attorney General Merrick Garland, announcing the legal challenge last week, cast the law known as SB 8 as “clearly unconstitu­tional under longstandi­ng Supreme Court precedent.”

This “scheme to nullify the Constituti­on” is one that all Americans, whatever their politics, should fear, Garland said.

The Texas law effectivel­y bans abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually at six weeks of pregnancy. The law doesn’t include exceptions for abortion, such as for rape or incest, but allows women to have the procedure for “medical emergencie­s.”

Another contentiou­s provision of the measure allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone involved in “aiding and abetting” abortions, which Garland said would encourage vigilantes to seek bounties for bringing successful legal action.

The federal lawsuit asserts that “the state has deputized ordinary citizens to serve as bounty hunters who are statutoril­y authorized to recover at least $10,000 per claim from individual­s who facilitate a woman’s exercise of her constituti­onal rights.”

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