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Biden administration to urge halt to strict Texas abortion law By Reuters


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: A flag of America is seen waving outside of Washington’s U.S. Department of Justice Building on December 2, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner/File Photo

Jan Wolfe, Sarah N. Lynch

(Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s Administration will ask a judge Friday to stop a Texas ban on abortion – which is the most severe in America – as a crucial battle in the legal war for abortion access.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Sept. 1 allowed the Republican-backed law to take effect even as litigation over its legality continues in lower courts. The U.S. Justice Department eight days later sued in federal court to try to invalidate it.

Texas’ capital, Austin is the setting for a hearing where Justice Department lawyers ask Robert Pitman (U.S. district judge) to temporarily block this law. Pitman stated that Texas’ Republican governor and state legislature had enacted it in open violation of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court recognized the constitutional rights of a woman to end a pregnancy in the Roe v. Wade 1973 ruling, which legalized abortion across the country. In a case where officials of Mississippi are asking for the Supreme Court to repeal Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in December about the legality and constitutionality of Mississippi’s abortion laws.

Texas’ law prohibits abortion starting at six weeks after conception, which is a time when some women might not realize that they are pregnant. This law, along with the Mississippi one, are part of a string of Republican-backed laws in different states that limit abortion.

A majority of abortions occur within six weeks. Texas does not allow for incest or rape. Ordinary citizens can enforce this ban and receive at least $10,000 for successfully suing anyone who assisted in an abortion.

The four Whole Woman’s Health abortion clinics across the state have reported that patient visits have plummeted and some staff have quit since the Texas law took effect.

The Justice Department presented sworn statements by doctors to describe the effect of Texas’ law on patients in an emergency motion.

Joshua Yap, Dr. Joshua Yap claimed that he had witnessed “surges” in women traveling to Oklahoma for abortions.

Yap described “one of the most heartbreaking cases that I’ve seen” as a Texas teenager who had been raped in her home by a relative. Yap also stated that Yap made the eight-hour trip to Oklahoma from Galveston for a guardian because she was pregnant with the child more than six months.

Republican Texas Attorney general Ken Paxton, Texas’ top law enforcement official, stated in court on Wednesday that the Justice Department’s suit must be dropped on jurisdictional grounds. Paxton stated that the Texas law needs to be challenged by state courts through private lawsuits against providers of abortion.

In 2014, Pitman was appointed to the judiciary by Barack Obama (Democratic former President).

Other interested parties will be heard at the hearing, such as Oscar Stilley (a barred attorney in home confinement tax evasion), who was one of the first to test key provisions of the law in September by sueing a San Antonio physician who performed an abortion.

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