Women in state banned from getting abortion in most cases after around six weeks
The White House says it wants the country’s highest court to block the restrictive law until the fierce legal fight now surrounding it plays out in lower court appeals.
The law, which was passed in September, bans abortions in Texas after a heartbeat is detected by medical professionals, which normally occurs around six weeks – a time before many women even know they are pregnant.
The law makes no exception in the cases of rape or incest.
A federal judge in Texas blocked the law for around 48 hours before a conservative federal appeals court ruled that the state could continue to enforce the law, which critics say was deliberately written to be difficult to challenge through the federal court system.
The Justice Department asked the Supreme Court on Monday to lift the order imposed by the Fifth Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which ruled last week that the abortion ban could stay in place during litigation.
The federal government says that the state’s law defies the Supreme Court’s key decisions on abortion rights “by banning abortion long before viability, indeed, before many women even realize they are pregnant”.
“The question now is whether Texas’ nullification of this Court’s precedents should be allowed to continue while the courts consider the United States’ suit. As the district court recognised, it should not,” the Justice Department wrote in its plea to the Supreme Court.
The high court, which has a right-wing majority that includes three Justices appointed by Donald Trump, refused to block the Texas ban when it was signed into law.
The Republican-pushed law, which prevents access to an abortion that violates Roe v Wade, also allowed private citizens to sue doctors or anyone else believed to have broken it and to receive payments of $10,000 per illegal procedure.
In the wake of the law passing in Texas, US Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Department of Justice was bringing a lawsuit as it was designed “to prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights by thwarting judicial review for as long as possible.”