Democrat attorneys general in 24 states joined the Biden administration Wednesday in urging a federal judge to block a life-saving new Texas law.
The Hill reports Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy submitted the amicus brief on behalf of the two dozen state officials, pleading with the court to allow abortion on demand in Texas again.
“Today, virtually no one can obtain an abortion in Texas,” the attorneys general argued in their brief. “In order to obtain abortion care, patients now have to travel out-of-state, which makes abortion for many people too difficult, too time-intensive, and too costly.”
Their brief supports a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice challenging the Texas heartbeat law. Late Tuesday, the department submitted an emergency request to block the law.
The heartbeat law went into effect Sept. 1, prohibiting abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy. Pro-life leaders in the state estimate as many as 100 babies are being saved from abortion every day.
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Two weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court refused Planned Parenthood’s and other pro-abortion groups’ request to temporarily block enforcement of the law. However, the court battle is not over.
Healy and the other attorneys general argued that the law is a “direct contravention” of the Supreme Court precedent under Roe v. Wade.
“By banning nearly all pre-viability abortions within Texas, the law, Senate Bill 8 (SB8), violates nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent affirming the constitutional right to an abortion,” Oregon Attorney General Elen Rosenblum, who signed onto the brief, said in a statement. “The Texas legislature sought to circumvent other Supreme Court rulings by giving enforcement authority to private individuals instead of the government in an ‘unprecedented attack on our constitutional order’ and the rule of law.”
The attorneys general also argued that the private enforcement mechanism in the law, which allows private individuals to sue abortionists and others who help abort unborn babies, essentially is an “across-the-board ban on constitutionally protected activity.”
Reuters reports U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman, an appointee of pro-abortion President Barack Obama, has been assigned to the case.
In its filing Tuesday, the Biden administration argued that the heartbeat law violates the Fourteenth Amendment and the precedents set by Roe v. Wade.
“It is well-settled that the Fourteenth Amendment prevents states from banning abortion before a fetus is viable,” it told the court. “Because S.B. 8 has that effect, it is plainly unconstitutional under binding precedent.”
It also claimed the law “irreparably injures” the federal government by violating the Supremacy Clause, according to the report.
In response, a spokesperson for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican who signed the law, emphasized the need to protect unborn babies’ right to life.
“The most precious freedom is life itself,” spokesperson Renae Eze told the Associated Press. “Texas passed a law that ensures that the life of every child with a heartbeat will be spared from the ravages of abortion.”
In 2020, about 54,000 unborn babies were aborted in Texas, and about 85 percent happened after six weeks of pregnancy, according to state health statistics.
The law already is saving lives. While abortion activists say some women are traveling to other states for abortions, they admit that others are choosing to have their babies instead.
About a dozen states have passed heartbeat laws to protect unborn babies from abortion, but Texas is the first to be allowed to enforce its law. Unique from other states, the Texas law includes a private enforcement mechanism that allows people to file lawsuits against abortionists who violate the law and those who help them.
Whether the Texas law will remain in effect or ultimately be upheld as constitutional in court remains uncertain, but pro-life leaders are hopeful now that the Supreme Court has a conservative majority.
In 1973, the court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion under Roe v. Wade, and instead forced states to legalize abortion on demand. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks.
Meanwhile, pro-life advocates are reaching out to pregnant women across Texas with compassion and understanding, offering resources and emotional support to help them and their babies. Earlier this year, state lawmakers increased support for pregnant and parenting mothers and babies, ensuring that they have resources to choose life for their babies.
Polls show Americans support heartbeat laws. An April poll by the University of Texas-Austin found that 49 percent of Texans support making abortions illegal after six weeks of pregnancy, while 41 percent oppose it. In 2019, a national Hill-HarrisX survey also found that 55 percent of voters said they do not think laws banning abortions after six weeks – when an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable – are too restrictive.