The Biden administration said Monday that anyone in Texas planning to do violence to an unborn child by aborting her baby must be protected from violence.
President Joe Biden on Friday condemned the Texas “heartbeat” law that went into effect last week after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block it, CNN reported.
“The most pernicious thing about the Texas law, it sort of creates a vigilante system,” Biden said.
“It just seems — I know this sounds ridiculous — it’s almost un-American, what we’re talking about,” he said.
The Texas law signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott bans doctors from performing abortions if the heartbeat of the unborn child can be detected. Similar bills have been proposed in other states and have fallen by the wayside amid legal challenges.
But, as the SCOTUSblog summary of the case noted, Texas put a new wrinkle into its law. Instead of the state playing the role of enforcer, private citizens are allowed to sue anyone who violates the law and collect $10,000 if they win in court.
After the Biden administration promised the pro-abortion lobby it would do something about the law, on Monday it acted in the form of a statement from Attorney General Merrick Garland.
While the Justice Department urgently explores all options to challenge Texas SB8 in order to protect the constitutional rights of women and other persons, including access to an abortion, we will continue to protect those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services pursuant to our criminal and civil enforcement of the FACE Act,” he said in the statement.
“The FACE Act prohibits the use or threat of force and physical obstruction that injures, intimidates, or interferes with a person seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services. It also prohibits intentional property damage of a facility providing reproductive health services,” he added.
“The department has consistently obtained criminal and civil remedies for violations of the FACE Act since it was signed into law in 1994, and it will continue to do so now.”
Federal law enforcement could get involved, according to Garland.
“The department will provide support from federal law enforcement when an abortion clinic or reproductive health center is under attack. We have reached out to U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and FBI field offices in Texas and across the country to discuss our enforcement authorities,” he said.
Former Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe said enforcing the law amounts to violating a woman’s rights.
“It should be the announced position of Merrick Garland’s DOJ that claims asserted by bounty hunters under the Texas statute will be regarded as unlawful attempts to deprive persons of their constitutional rights and will be subject to civil and criminal sanctions as appropriate,” he tweeted Saturday.
It should be the announced position of Merrick Garland’s DOJ that claims asserted by bounty hunters under the Texas statute will be regarded as unlawful attempts to deprive persons of their constitutional rights and will be subject to civil and criminal sanctions as appropriate.
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) September 4, 2021
Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida argued Biden’s effort to send in the federal cavalry was in fact the true violation of the law.
“The DOJ is out of control,” he tweeted Monday. “This is totalitarian stuff.”
It is up to COURTS – not the executive branch – to determine whether the Texas law impairs constitutional rights.
No court has found rights are violated.
The DOJ is out of control.
This is totalitarian stuff.
If they don’t like a law they will use DOJ raw power to crush it. https://t.co/4AAtLYwfxz
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) September 6, 2021
The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops has praised the law.
“We celebrate every life saved by this legislation,” the bishops said a statement.
“Abortion is a human rights issue; the most fundamental human right is the right to life. Abortion is not healthcare. Abortion is not freedom. Abortion does not help women. Abortion is never the answer. It is always the violent taking of innocent human life,” the bishops said.
“We cannot turn away and say that, since the killing of another person takes place within the body of a woman, we as a society should not care, any more than when someone is killed within the privacy of a home or in a public venue.”
The bishops noted that women have many choices in Texas that do not involve abortion.
“Texas has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in programs for pregnant moms and families through the abortion alternatives program. Hundreds of pregnancy and parenting support programs and adoption services in our state provide practical resources to women and families facing overwhelming circumstances,” they said.
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