Kamala Harris Promises Federal Move Against Texas Abortion Ban

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After the U.S. Supreme Court opted this week to allow a ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy to go into effect in Texas, Vice President Kamala Harris joined those speaking out. As she put it, the Biden-Harris administration “will not stand by and allow our nation to go back to the days of back-alley abortions.” President Joe Biden himself and Attorney General Merrick Garland have spoken out similarly, with Garland insisting that the Justice Department is “evaluating all options to protect the constitutional rights of women, including access to an abortion.”

The exact form that federal action on this issue may take isn’t immediately clear. Meanwhile, Harris said as follows this week, referring to the Supreme Court decision:

‘This decision is not the last word on Roe v. Wade, and we will not stand by and allow our nation to go back to the days of back-alley abortions. We will not abide by cash incentives for virtual vigilantes and intimidation for patients. We will use every lever of our Administration to defend the right to safe and legal abortion—and to strengthen that right.’

Harris was also critical of the method that the Supreme Court used for considering the issue. The matter was a part of the court’s so-called “shadow docket,” a term that CNN identifies as a “nickname for emergency actions taken by the court that do not go through the full briefing and hearing process of a formal opinion.” The Senate Judiciary Committee will be holding a hearing looking at the court’s usage of this so-called “shadow docket,” which allows the conservative majority on the court to implement sweeping policy decisions without the kind of public accountability associated with the ordinary hearing process.

As Harris put it, “the Supreme Court threatened nearly 50 years of legal precedent, dealing a significant blow to Roe v. Wade and the right of women to make decisions about their own bodies.” She also noted that without “a hearing or due consideration, the majority of justices effectively allowed a bounty law to go into effect in Texas, and an abortion ban after about six weeks of pregnancy even in cases of rape or incest.” The abortion ban includes provisions allowing for lawsuits from private citizens against individuals suspected of involvement in the procurement of an illegal abortion, and in the event that such a lawsuit proves its claim, the person who brought it is entitled to at least $10,000 — essentially constituting a bounty.