“This extreme Texas law blatantly violates the constitutional right established under Roe v Wade and upheld as precedent for nearly half a century,” read a White House statement purportedly written by the president on Wednesday. Roe v Wade was a 1972 Supreme Court ruling that found a woman’s right to seek an abortion was constitutionally protected.
“My administration is deeply committed to the constitutional right established in Roe v Wade nearly five decades ago and will protect and defend that right,” Biden’s statement concluded.
Biden did not say if or how he would fight the new law directly. The law, which came into effect in Texas on Wednesday, prohibits women from seeking abortions after six weeks of pregnancy once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, and pro-choice groups and abortion clinics say it will affect more than 85% of terminations in the state.
The law is also seen as a direct challenge to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Planned Parenthood v Casey, which found that abortions carried out within 22 weeks of pregnancy – considered the point of fetal viability – to be a constitutional right.
Under the law, citizens will be able to sue a provider or person who has facilitated a termination after the month-and-a-half cutoff. If found to have aided the process, the individual will be forced to pay $10,000 to the person who filed the suit. The American Civil Liberties Union has complained that this unprecedented situation “actively encourages private individuals to act as bounty hunters.”
The law was signed in May by Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican. Since then, pro-abortion activists had counted on the Supreme Court to hear emergency appeals from abortion providers, and block the ban while other legal challenges are filed.
The Supreme Court, which is currently on summer recess, opted on Wednesday to take no action on an emergency petition from a number of Texas abortion clinics.
The Texas case is not the only challenge to Roe v Wade up before the court. When its nine justices return from recess in October, they will hear a challenge to Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
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