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Justice Department Asks Court to Halt Implementation of Texas Abortion Law

The U.S flag and the Texas State flag fly over the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas, March 14, 2017. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

The Justice Department has asked U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to halt the implementation of Texas’s law prohibiting abortions upon detection of a fetal heartbeat, or as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

“By both defying the Constitution and frustrating judicial review, Texas has not merely protracted its assault on the rights of its citizens; it has repudiated its obligations under our national compact in a manner that directly implicates sovereign interests of the United States,” the Department claimed in a court filing on Monday.

“If Texas’s scheme is permissible, no constitutional right is safe from state-sanctioned sabotage of this kind,” it stated.

The Texas law, known as S.B. 8, instead of outright banning abortions after six weeks, permits residents to sue anyone who aids a woman in procuring an abortion for at least $10,000 in damages. Women who have had an abortion performed, however, are immune. The Justice Department sued the state of Texas on September 9 in an attempt to strike down the law.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman granted a temporary injunction against S.B. 8 on Wednesday.

“A person’s right under the Constitution to choose to obtain an abortion prior to fetal viability is well established,” wrote Pitman. “From the moment S.B. 8 went into effect, women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution.”

However, on Friday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit granted an administrative stay that allowed the law to go into effect again.

“Great news tonight, The Fifth Circuit has granted an administrative stay on #SB8,” Texas attorney general Ken Paxton wrote on Twitter at the time. “I will fight federal overreach at every turn.”

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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