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The Democratic President of the United States has finally announced an effort to fight Texas’s near-total ban on abortions, which was allowed to proceed Wednesday after the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to deny a temporary injunction against the law.
In a Thursday morning statement, Biden said he was “directing” the new Gender Policy Council and the Office of the White House Counsel to “launch a whole-of-government effort to respond to this decision, looking specifically to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice to see what steps the federal government can take to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions as protected by Roe, and what legal tools we have to insulate women and providers from the impact of Texas' bizarre scheme of outsourced enforcement to private parties.”
In addition to banning most abortions after six weeks—before most women know they’re pregnant—the Texas Heartbeat Act, also known as SB8, created a right of action for private citizens to sue people who assist with an illegal abortion (including providers and the people who drive the patient to their procedure) for up to $10,000.
Abortion providers in Texas sued for a temporary injunction against the law until it makes its way through the courts, given that it blatantly violates the precedent set by Roe v. Wade, and arguing that it would effectively ban “care for at least 85% of Texas abortion patients.” All four Supreme Court Justices who opposed the ruling wrote their own dissents, describing it variously as “stunning” and “unprecedented.”
“Presented with an application to enjoin a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny, a majority of Justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote.
In his statement, Biden called the Supreme Court decision “an unprecedented assault on a woman's constitutional rights under Roe v. Wade.”
“For the [Supreme Court] majority to do this without a hearing, without the benefit of an opinion from a court below, and without due consideration of the issues, insults the rule of law and the rights of all Americans to seek redress from our courts.”