FILE PHOTO: U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland attends a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 25, 2021. REUTERS/Ken Cedeno/File Photo

DOJ Presents a Case Against Texas Abortion Ban

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a brief with the Supreme Court to block the enforcement of Texas’ new abortion ban, stating that it is unconstitutional. The law would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks and also force doctors at clinics like Planned Parenthood to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles in order for their patients to be eligible for an abortion. The DOJ argues that this law will place “an undue burden on a woman’s right,” which violates her freedom under Roe v Wade.

Texas Attorney General, Greg Abbott filed a petition with the U.S Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to uphold the law. The Daily Beast is reporting that he “believes this is an important test case in which to establish fetal rights. On November 18th, however, Judge Lee Yeakel ruled that the Texas law violates women’s right to an abortion. He said that it “is not constitutional because it creates a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO for the Center for Reproductive Rights has stated that this law is “an unconstitutional ban on abortion.He also says: “This law does not take into account the health and decision-making of women in the best interests of their families and does nothing to protect the health or safety of women.Lourdes Rivera, Senior Vice President for the United States Programs at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said that this ban was “an assault on women’s rights throughout Texas, imposing unnecessary restrictions to force clinics providing abortions to close.

Texas lawmakers have also been pushing a law that would require women to get an ultrasound before having an abortion, either through a transvaginal or abdominal ultrasound. In Texas, if someone does not want to have the procedure, they must “be given the opportunity for a medical sonogram” and then be offered counseling from a doctor about the benefits of having the sonogram.

Colorado, Ohio, South Carolina and Arkansas have all attempted to pass similar bills that would require women to wait between 24-72 hours before getting an abortion. These states are waiting for the ruling on Texas’ law before they proceed with their own legislative efforts.

The Associated Press reports that “It’s a potentially important test case for other states with Republican governors and GOP-led legislatures that have also passed near-total abortion bans.
Currently, there are only nine abortion clinics in the entire state of Texas. This is because that law included a provision that requires The Women’s Health Program to be operated by “an entity qualified to participate in a program under a federal grant administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration. The only entity fit to meet those requirements is Planned Parenthood.

As a result, all but four clinics in Texas were forced to close as they could not comply with the new law.According to the National Conference of State Legislators, “In 2013, so far, 25 states have introduced legislationto limit abortion access, including 6 states with bills related to the timing of abortions.

The Supreme Court will be hearing arguments for this case on March 2nd. The question is whether the Texas law violates the “constitutional guarantee of due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. One thing that could affect their decision is Justice Antonin Scalia’s death over the weekend.
Danielle Wells, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said that their organization will continue to “fight against laws that are bad medicine for women.

Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America has stated, “Make no mistake: these restrictions are not grounded in medicine, as the court rightfully said in blocking Wisconsin’s similar law. They are about politics and ideology.

Hogue has also said, “The big picture is that people across the country are seeing the true face of what’s happening in state houses all across America.
Judge Yeakel has issued a restraining order against this law until Thursday’s hearing. If the law is allowed to go into effect then both Whole Woman’s Health and other Texas abortion clinic would have to close their doors.
The Supreme Court has not yet decided whether or not they will hear this case, but if it goes through, a final decision could be made in June 2016.