Texas abortion law, the Biden government’s response

The government of Democratic President Joe Biden has not said its last word against Texas’ abortion restriction law. “The Ministry of Justice intends to ask the Supreme Court” to intervene again on this law which has banned most abortions in this vast state for a month and a half, said spokesperson Anthony Coley.

A legal marathon

This law prohibits aborting as soon as the embryo’s heartbeat is detectable, therefore, around six weeks of pregnancy: that is, when most women are still unaware of being pregnant. There are no exceptions to this law, even in cases of incest or rape.

Texas: why did the Supreme Court not suspend the anti-abortion law?

Those who challenge it object that the Supreme Court of the United States – whose judgments are binding on all states in the country – declared in 1973 that women have a constitutional right to have an abortion. It even established in its case law a time limit close to 22 weeks, that is to say as long as the fetus is not viable (Roe v. Wade judgment). This is why laws comparable to that adopted by Texas, have so far been invalidated in court. Except that Texas law is not like the others

Texas ruse

Seized by the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court – which has six conservative and three progressive judges – indeed invoked, at the beginning of September, “Complex and new procedural issues”, which would not allow him to decide on the conformity or not of the law with the constitution. The text of Texas includes a new device: it confides “Exclusively” it is up to citizens to ensure that the measure is respected by encouraging them to file a complaint against organizations or people who help women to have illegal abortions.

United States: Texas can reinstate its law limiting abortion

“Giving private individuals the responsibility of ensuring that the law is respected is unprecedented, explains Jean-Claude Beaujour, international lawyer and president of the France-Americas committee. By not pronouncing itself, the Court meant that it did not have time to analyze in depth an unprecedented text. ” Nevertheless, the Court accepted that the measure raised “Serious questions” on the violation of women’s rights.

The response of the federal justice

After this setback, the federal government entered the legal arena, filing a lawsuit on its behalf against Texas. On October 6, a trial judge ruled in his favor and suspended the law, pending a review on the merits. “This court will not allow this shocking deprivation of such an important right to continue one more day”, wrote federal judge Robert Pitman.

But days later, a Louisiana-based appeals court known for its conservatism overturned Judge Pitman’s ruling. Some clinics then resumed abortions beyond six weeks.

It is on the basis of this last episode that the Ministry of Justice intends to refer once again to the Supreme Court: it will ask it to reinstate Judge Pitman’s decision. He should formally address his appeal to him in the coming days. Texas has 24 abortion clinics with a population of 29 million.

→ READ. Texas bishops welcome abortion restrictions


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