As clinics hundreds of miles away remain busy with Texas patients making long travels to receive care, the Biden administration sought the courts again Monday night to intervene in and block a new Texas law that has outlawed most abortions since early September.
The new effort comes three days after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the nation’s most stringent abortion legislation, following a brief 48-hour window last week in which Texas abortion doctors hurried to bring in patients again after a scathing judgment by a lower court.
The coming days might be crucial in deciding the law’s immediate future, including if another attempt to have the United States Supreme Court weigh in.
The legislation prohibits abortions in Texas whenever heart activity is discovered, which often occurs at six weeks and before some women are even aware that they are pregnant.
Although comparable early abortion restrictions in other GOP-controlled states have been struck down by judges, the Texas legislation has held up because the state delegated enforcement to private people, who may earn at least $10,000 in damages if they successfully sue abortion clinics.
“No constitutional right is immune from state-sanctioned sabotage of this type if Texas’ approach is acceptable,” the Justice Department told the appeals court.
The Justice Department raised the possibility that, if allowed to stand, the legal system developed in enacting the legislation may be utilized to bypass even the Supreme Court’s judgments on gun rights and political finance in 2008 and 2010.
It’s unclear when the 5th Circuit will determine whether or not to prolong the temporary injunction that allows the Texas law to stay.
The decision was struck down by a New Orleans-based appeals court last week, just as several Texas abortion clinics immediately prepared to resume performing abortions for patients older than six weeks. In a second brief Monday night, Planned Parenthood, Texas’ biggest abortion provider, told the court about several Texas women who had been affected by the legislation, including one patient who was just 12 years old.
Planned Parenthood’s counsel informed the court that “Oklahoma employees are working overtime to care for Texas patients denied abortions.”
After the statute took effect last month, the Biden administration filed a lawsuit against Texas. Officials in Texas have defended the restrictions, which were signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in May and claim they have no power to prevent private citizens from filing lawsuits.