Oct. 15 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s administration said on Friday it would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to block restrictive Texas law that imposes a near-total ban on abortion after a court d federal appeal restored the law.
The US Department of Justice will ask the Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 Conservative majority, to overturn the 5th US Court of Appeals decision to lift a judge’s order blocking the law, as litigation over the dispute continues, a spokesperson said.
Texas’ measure, which bans abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, went into effect on September 1. She makes an exception for a documented medical emergency, but not for cases of rape or incest.
The law is unusual in that it gives individuals the power to enforce it by allowing them to prosecute anyone who performs or helps a woman to have an abortion after heart activity is detected in the embryo. This feature helped prevent the law from being immediately blocked, as it made direct prosecution of the state more difficult.
Critics of the law have said the provision – which provides monetary rewards for those whose prosecutions are successful – allows people to act as anti-abortion bounty hunters.
The Justice Department sued Texas over the abortion law last month, arguing that the law prevents women from exercising their constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy, as recognized in the landmark decision of the Supreme Court of 1973 Roe v. Wade who legalized abortion across the country. The ministry also argued that the law unduly interferes with the operations of the federal government to provide abortion-related services.
In his ruling blocking the law on October 6, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman in Austin, Texas, ruled that the law was likely unconstitutional and designed to avoid judicial review. The judge declared that he “would not sanction one more day this injurious deprivation of such an important right”.
The Supreme Court previously allowed the law to be applied in a separate challenge to the ban by abortion providers. In that 5-4 decision of September 1, Tory Chief Justice John Roberts expressed his skepticism about the way the law is applied.
Texas’ measure bans abortion at a time when many women don’t even realize they are pregnant. Under the law, individual citizens can receive a minimum of $ 10,000 for successfully prosecuting those who perform or help others obtain an abortion that violates the ban.
The Supreme Court is already set to consider a major abortion case on Dec. 1 in a dispute over the 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi, in which that state has asked judges to overturn Roe v. Wade. A decision is due by the end of June 2022.
Reporting by Andrew Chung and Brendan O’Brien; Additional reporting by Sarah Lynch; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Jonathan Oatis
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