WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) – The Biden administration launched a federal lawsuit Thursday against Texas over its recently-enacted law that has effectively halted abortions past six weeks in the state, claiming it violates both federal law and longstanding judicial precedent.
On September 1, the Texas Heartbeat Act took effect in the Lone Star State. Signed in May by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, the law requires abortionists to screen for a preborn baby’s heartbeat and prohibits abortion if a heartbeat can be heard (generally as early as six weeks), with exceptions only for medical emergencies.
Instead of having the state prosecute violators, the law “exclusively” empowers private citizens to bring civil suits against abortionists, punishable by a minimum of $10,000 in statutory relief per abortion plus whatever additional injunctive relief is deemed “sufficient to prevent the defendant from violating this chapter or engaging in acts that aid or abet violations of this chapter.”
This unique enforcement mechanism has been credited for the U.S. Supreme Court’s surprising decision not to block the law from taking effect, as well as the decisions of abortion chains Planned Parenthood and Whole Woman’s Health to temporarily suspend abortions past six weeks in the state.
On Thursday, however, Forbes reports that U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the administration’s lawsuit against the Act, making good on Democrat President Joe Biden’s threat to undertake a “whole-of-government effort” to restore abortion-on-demand in Texas.
“The United States has the authority and the responsibility to ensure that no state can deprive individuals of their constitutional rights through a legislative scheme specifically designed to prevent the vindication of those rights,” Garland declared, claiming the Act’s “scheme” is “one that all Americans, whatever their politics or party, should fear.”
In addition to conflicting with the pro-abortion precedents of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the lawsuit argues that the law “conflicts with federal law by undercutting federal agencies’ authority and preventing from carrying out certain responsibilities, as well as leaving federal officials open to legal liability,” according to Forbes.
It remains to be seen whether this suit will fare better before the Supreme Court than the abortion-industry challenge it rejected last week, which was based not on the substance of the issue but on the lack of a named enforcer who could be enjoined.
Once this or another upcoming abortion case out of Mississippi does reach the substance of the issue, abortion friends and foes alike will be anxious to see whether a majority of the current justices are willing to overturn the Court’s abortion jurisprudence and restore states’ freedom to directly prohibit abortion.