Ns News Online Desk: US President Joe Biden has launched a “whole-of-government” response to oppose a new law in Texas that bans most abortions. He called the Supreme Court’s decision not to block the law an “unprecedented assault” on women’s rights.
Any individual now has the right to sue anyone involved with providing or facilitating an abortion past six weeks of pregnancy in Texas. This is before many women know they have conceived.
Rights groups had asked the Supreme Court to block the law, but it refused following a 5-4 vote.
The judges said their decision was not based on any conclusion about whether the Texas law was constitutional or not, and that the door remained open for legal challenges.
One of the liberal Supreme Court judges, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, said those justices who had allowed the law to stand had “opted to bury their heads in the sand” over a “flagrantly unconstitutional law”.
President Biden accused the court of unleashing “unconstitutional chaos”. “The highest court of our land will allow millions in Texas in need of critical reproductive care to suffer while courts sift through procedural complexities,” he said. Mr Biden said he had asked the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice to see what steps the national government could take to “insulate women and providers”, but did not provide further details.
He said the law violated the landmark Roe v Wade case in 1973, in which the Supreme Court legalized abortion across the US. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters that the president had long wanted to see the “codification” of Roe v Wade – which would mean Congress voting to make the precedent federal law.
Texas’ Republican Governor Greg Abbott has said his state will “always defend the right to life”.
The ruling was welcomed by Dan Patrick, Texas’s Republican lieutenant governor, who tweeted: “A tremendous #prolife victory! This lifesaving legislation reflects Texas’ pro-life beliefs and our continued commitment to protecting the most vulnerable.Abortion providers in Texas were also looking for ways to challenge the new law, while dealing with its immediate impact.
“It has been truly devastating,” said Andrea Ferrigno of Whole Woman’s Health.
Patients have been “talking about their despair and how they’ve felt pressured and rushed to make a decision”, she told the BBC. For people already beyond the six-week deadline, she said Whole Women’s Health had been offering information about what they could do next. But she said the company was also “regrouping and consulting with our legal counsel” to decide on its next steps.
In the city of San Antonio, Planned Parenthood said it had paused its abortion services “while this plays in the courts”.
Its director of public affairs, Mara Posada, said they were “getting calls and having to either let a person know that they cannot get an abortion after six weeks here in Texas, or if they are early enough in their pregnancy, we are referring them to a provider that is currently providing abortion care under the limits”.