Biden tries to intervene with the Supreme Court again: DOJ urges justices to halt the Texas abortion law after appeals court ruled it could continue last night
The Biden administration announced on Friday it would ask the Supreme Court to throw out a Texas law that bans almost all abortions after a federal appeals panel allowed the restrictions to stay in place.
Texas clinics are running out of options as they try to beat a ban on abortions after cardiac activity is detected - at about the six-week mark, when many women may not even know they are pregnant.
The law took effect on Sept 1 and makes exceptions for medical emergency but not for rape or incest.
Opponents say it is the biggest barrier to abortion imposed in almost 50 years.
Their latest defeat came Thursday night when a conservative-leaning federal appeals panel in New Orleans, in a 2-1 decision, allowed the restrictions to remain in place for a third time in the last several weeks.
A day later, Department of Justice spokesman Anthony Coley said the administration would ask justices of the Supreme Court to overturn that result.
'The Justice Department intends to ask the Supreme Court to vacate the Fifth Circuit's stay of the preliminary injunction against Texas Senate Bill 8,' he said.
Texas women have been force to seek out abortion clinics in neighboring states, sometimes driving hours through the middle of the night and including patients as young as 12 years old.
The Biden administration was under pressure from abortion rights supporters to go to the Supreme Court even before the announcement. The court already once allowed the restrictions to take effect, but did so without ruling on the law's constitutionality.
The Texas Attorney General's Office called Thursday night's decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals a 'testament that we are on the right side of the law and life.'
A 1992 decision by the Supreme Court prevented states from banning abortion before viability, the point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb, around 24 weeks of pregnancy.
But Texas' law has outmaneuvered courts so far because it offloads 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 says amounts to a bounty.
Only once has a court moved to put the restrictions on hold — and that order stood for only 48 hours.
During that brief window, some Texas clinics rushed to perform abortions on patients past six weeks, but many more appointments were canceled after the 5th Circuit moved to swiftly reinstate the law last week.
Texas had roughly two dozen abortion clinics before the law took effect, and operators have said some may be forced to close if the restrictions stay in place for much longer.
Texas Right to Life, the state's largest anti-abortion group, set up a tip line to receive allegations against abortion providers but has not filed any lawsuits.
Kimberlyn Schwartz, a spokeswoman, said Thursday the group expected the Biden administration to go to the Supreme Court next and was 'confident Texas will ultimately defeat these attacks on our life-saving efforts.'
Already the stakes are high in the coming months over the future of abortion rights in the U.S.
In December, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court will hear Mississippi's bid to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that guarantees a woman's right to an abortion.
On Wednesday, 18 state attorneys generals from mostly GOP-controlled states threw their support behind the Texas law, urging the court to let the restrictions stand while accusing the federal government of overstepping in bringing the challenge in the first place.
Last month, more than 20 other states, mostly run by Democrats, had urged the lower court to throw out the law.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has called the law 'clearly unconstitutional' and warned that it could become a model elsewhere in the country unless it's struck down.
'The statute deputizes all private citizens without any showing of personal connection or injury to serve as bounty hunters,' he said last month.