President Joe Biden has strong words for Texas’ six-week abortion ban that went into effect on Wednesday. The President says that the law is “extreme” and unconstitutional.
“Today, Texas law SB8 went into effect. This extreme Texas law blatantly violates the constitutional right established under Roe v. Wade and upheld as precedent for nearly half a century,” President Biden said on Wednesday.
“The Texas law will significantly impair women’s access to the health care they need, particularly for communities of color and individuals with low incomes. And, outrageously, it deputizes private citizens to bring lawsuits against anyone who they believe has helped another person get an abortion, which might even include family members, health care workers, front desk staff at a health care clinic, or strangers with no connection to the individual.”
Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed the controversial fetal heartbeat bill into law in May. Under the legislation, women cannot terminate unwanted pregnancies after a fetal heartbeat has been detected. Private citizens can file lawsuits against individuals that seek abortions and against providers and anyone who helps a person obtain an abortion. Anyone that is sued under the ban would have to pay $10,000 or more to the person that filed the lawsuit. There are no provisions for cases involving rape or incest.
“Our creator endowed us with the right to life and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion,” the Governor said at the bill signing ceremony in May.
The Texas ban overrides the 1973 landmark case, Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal throughout the United States.
Democratic lawmakers have criticized the United States Supreme Court for failing to block the legislation.
“Under the cover of darkness, by choosing to do nothing, the Supreme Court allowed an unconstitutional abortion ban in Texas to go into effect last night,” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tweeted. “Their decision doesn’t change the fact that reproductive rights are human rights. We’ll fight for them.”
New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a survivor of sexual assault, tweeted that the attack against women’s rights is “about abuse of power.”
“Now Roe is upended. But we’re not going anywhere. This is a fight for our lives,” the lawmaker tweeted.
“Republicans in state legislatures across the country have engaged in a coordinated effort to dismantle Roe v. Wade and its 50 years of precedent. Without court intervention, this law will create a two-tier health care system for Texans because of Republicans’ desire to impose their extremist, unpopular, and dangerous political agenda on Americans,” Lottie Shackelford, Chair of the National Arm of the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Caucus, said.
The United States Supreme Court agreed to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The case is expected to be reviewed late next summer. The case challenges a Mississippi law that prohibits abortions after fifteen weeks.
The state of Mississippi wants the Supreme Court Justices to consider whether all pre-viability prohibitions on abortion are unconstitutional; whether the “undue burden” standard established in the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey or the “balancing test” from the Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt governs abortion’s regulations; and if abortion providers have the power to challenge abortion regulations for women.
The State argues that the Gestational Age Act is allowed under Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
“If this Court does not overrule Roe and Casey’s heightened-scrutiny regime outfight, it should at minimum hold that there is no pre-viability barrier to state prohibitions on abortion and uphold Mississippi’s law,” the state’s brief says.
Health professionals and women’s rights advocates say that the gestational age in abortion legislation is not reflective of natural science.
“When you factor in the time it takes to confirm a pregnancy, consider your options and make a decision, schedule an appointment and comply with all the restrictions politicians have already put in place for patients and providers, a six-week ban essentially bans abortion outright,” Dyana Limon-Mercado, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said.
“Arbitrary gestational age bans on abortion at six weeks that use the term ‘heartbeat’ to define the gestational development being targeted do not reflect medial accuracy or clinical understanding,” Ted Anderson, former President at American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist (ACOG), said.
“Pregnancy and fetal development are a continuum. What is interpreted as a heartbeat in these bills is actually electrically induced flickering of a portion of the fetal tissue that will become the heart as the embryo develops.”