Feds Ask SCOTUS to Block Texas Abortion Ban

Justice Department describes new law as 'clearly unconstitutional'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 15, 2021 11:44 AM CDT
Updated Oct 18, 2021 1:15 PM CDT
White House Will Turn to Supreme Court on Abortion
The Supreme Court building in Washington.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Update: The Justice Department has formally asked the Supreme Court to block a Texas law that bans almost all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The department, which described the law as "clearly unconstitutional," asked for the law to be blocked while legal challenges play out, CNN reports. The department said the law, which bans abortions long before viability and "before many women even realize they are pregnant," defies previous Supreme Court decision on abortion rights. "The question now is whether Texas’ nullification of this Court’s precedents should be allowed to continue while the courts consider the United States’ suit," the Justice Department wrote, per the AP. "As the district court recognized, it should not." Our original story from Oct. 15 follows:

The Biden administration said Friday it will turn next to the US Supreme Court in its attempt to halt a Texas law that has banned most abortions since September, per the AP. The move by the Justice Department comes after an appeals court on Thursday night left in place the law known as Senate Bill 8, which bans abortions once cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks. That is before some women know they are pregnant. Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley says the federal government will ask the Supreme Court to reverse that decision.

The Texas law is the nation's biggest curb to abortion in nearly 50 years. Last month, the Supreme Court allowed the law to take effect but did so without ruling on whether it is constitutional. Since the law took effect in early September, Texas women have sought out abortion clinics in neighboring states, some driving hours through the middle of the night and including patients as young as 12. The law makes no exception in cases of rape or incest. In Thursday's 2-1 decision, a three-judge panel of the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals granted Texas’ request to keep the law in place as the legal fight proceeds. It marks the third time the conservative-leaning appeals court has sided with Texas and let the restrictions stand. (Read more texas abortion law stories.)

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