- President Joe Biden slammed a Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
- Biden said the law “blatantly violates the constitutional right established under Roe v. Wade.”
- The Democratic president said his administration “will protect and defend that right.”
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President Joe Biden on Wednesday said a new Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy defies the Supreme Court’s 1973 landmark decision, Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide.
“This extreme Texas law blatantly violates the constitutional right established under Roe v. Wade and upheld as precedent for nearly half a century,” Biden said in a statement.
The president further condemned the Texas law, saying it “will significantly impair women’s access to the health care they need, particularly for communities of color and individuals with low incomes.” Studies show that people of color are more likely to face disparities in reproductive healthcare than their white counterparts.
The abortion law took effect in Texas at midnight on Wednesday, after the Supreme Court failed to rule on an emergency petition to block it. The law prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which typically occurs at the six-week mark of pregnancy, a time when many people do not yet know they are pregnant. There are no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, signed the “heartbeat” bill into law in May, set to take effect on September 1. The law is one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion bans and follows a slew of abortion restrictions that GOP-led state legislatures have introduced across the country.
The Texas law calls on private citizens, rather than state officials, to enforce the ban. That means private citizens can file lawsuits against an abortion provider or anyone helping a patient get an abortion in Texas. For every successful case, the private citizen will be awarded at least $US10,000 ($AU13,667), in addition to legal expenses.
The president did not call out the Supreme Court directly and instead focused his criticism on the Texas law itself.
“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,” Biden said Wednesday.
He added that his administration is “deeply committed” to the abortion right that Roe established and it “will protect and defend that right.”
The Supreme Court will take up a major abortion case this fall that could throw out Roe. The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, concerns a Mississippi law that would ban nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.