President Joe Biden says that he is directing offices within his administration to examine the possibilities of federal action to protect access to abortions for women in Texas, after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a law in that state to stand that bans all abortions — without even any exceptions for rape or incest — after six weeks of pregnancy. Many don’t even know that they’re pregnant until after the six-week point, and once that point of a pregnancy passes, the new Texas law also allows for private citizens to sue people who are suspected of having “aided or abetted” someone getting an illegal abortion. If such a lawsuit is successful, then the individual who brought it is entitled to a $10,000 reward.
In short, the law is draconian. It’s remaining on the books thanks in part to the rush by Donald Trump and Senate Republicans to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg shortly before the 2020 presidential election. The decision to allow the law to stand was 5-4, with five justices — including all three of Trump’s appointees — in favor, and four, including Chief Justice John Roberts, opposed. With one less Trump-appointed Justice, the outcome could have changed.
Meanwhile, Biden commented as follows:
‘The Supreme Court’s ruling overnight is an unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights under Roe v. Wade, which has been the law of the land for almost fifty years. By allowing a law to go into effect that empowers private citizens in Texas to sue health care providers, family members supporting a woman exercising her right to choose after six weeks, or even a friend who drives her to a hospital or clinic, it unleashes unconstitutional chaos and empowers self-anointed enforcers to have devastating impacts.’
After recapping some of the troubling provisions of the law, Biden added the following:
‘For the majority to do this without a hearing, without the benefit of an opinion from a court below, and without due consideration of the issues, insults the rule of law and the rights of all Americans to seek redress from our courts. Rather than use its supreme authority to ensure justice could be fairly sought, the highest Court of our land will allow millions of women in Texas in need of critical reproductive care to suffer while courts sift through procedural complexities.’
As for the possibilities of federal action in response to the law, Biden said that he is “directing” the Gender Policy Council and the Office of the White House Counsel “to launch a whole-of-government effort to respond to this decision, looking specifically to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice to see what steps the Federal Government can take to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions as protected by Roe.” Referring to the provisions allowing for lawsuits from private citizens, Biden also said that he is directing an examination of “what legal tools we have to insulate women and providers from the impact of Texas’ bizarre scheme of outsourced enforcement to private parties.” Read his full statement at this link.