Law & the Courts

Biden Slams Supreme Court Decision on Texas Heartbeat Law: ‘Unconstitutional Chaos’

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on Afghanistan during a speech in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, D,C., August 31, 2021. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

President Biden issued a statement Thursday slamming the Supreme Court’s refusal to block a Texas law prohibiting abortion after a heartbeat can be detected.

Biden said the high court’s ruling would generate “unconstitutional chaos” by codifying a measure that empowers private citizens to enforce a ban on abortion and vowed to use a “whole-of-government” approach to respond to the law. While the law allows any individual to sue medical providers who perform an abortion, instead of deferring enforcement to the state government, it does not penalize the women who undergo the procedure to terminate their pregnancy. Per the law, plaintiffs in litigation cases resulting from the law’s implementation can potentially earn up to $10,000 in damages.

In his statement, Biden accused the court majority of denying women the “critical reproductive care” of abortion, allowing millions to “suffer.” In permitting the law’s enactment by not taking the opportunity to review the appeal of abortion providers, Biden said the Supreme Court violated the precedent established in Roe v. Wade, a ruling that many law scholars have argued rests on shaky legal foundations.

Specifically, Roe derived, or invented as some originalists have claimed, a “right to privacy” from the Constitution despite no explicit mention of the language in the document.

In response to what he called an “unprecedented assault” on abortion rights, Biden promised to consult his newly created Gender Policy Council to determine what executive power can be deployed to combat the Texas law. The president vowed to use the authority of the federal government where possible to “ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions as protected by Roe, and what legal tools we have to insulate women and providers from the impact of Texas’ bizarre scheme of outsourced enforcement to private parties.”

Despite the ruling garnering majority support on the bench, with five justices favoring the case’s dismissal although through a narrow technicality, Biden argued that “the dissents by Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan all demonstrate the error of the Court’s action here powerfully.”

While the law allows medical exceptions, it does not provide exceptions for rape or incest, which Biden noted.

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