The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas in an effort to block its restrictive abortion legislation.
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the suit at a press conference on Thursday (Sept. 9). “That act is clearly unconstitutional under long-standing Supreme Court precedent,” he said. “Those precedents hold, in the words of Planned Parenthood versus Casey, that ‘regardless of whether exceptions are made for particular circumstances, a state may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability.’”
Garland accused the Texas Republicans of contriving a “statutory scheme” through the law “to nullify the Constitution of the United States.”
“It does not rely on the state’s executive branch to enforce the law, as is the norm in Texas and everywhere else,” he added. “Rather, the snatcher deputizes all private citizens without any showing a personal connection or injury to serve as bounty hunters authorized to recover at least $10,000 per claim from individuals who facilitate a woman’s exercise of our constitutional rights.”
As part of the lawsuit, the DOJ is seeking an immediate court order that will prevent the law from being enforced.
The bill went into effect earlier this month and prohibits women from getting abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is usually around six weeks into the pregnancy. There are no exceptions for women who may have gotten pregnant from rape or incest. However, the legislation does allow exemptions for “medical emergencies.”
Private citizens are now allowed to sue abortion providers and anyone who helps a woman get the procedure after the six-week deadline. Those who file civil suits could be awarded up to $10,000.
Companies like Lyft and Uber have offered to cover the legal fees for any driver who is sued under the abortion law. Bumble and Match, dating apps that are both headquartered in Texas, have pledged to support women who want to terminate their pregnancies.
Check out a clip from Garland’s announcement below.