Texas abortion law: Biden's DOJ asks judge to intervene

Strictest abortion law in country went into effect Sept. 1 in Texas after being upheld in 5-4 decision by U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Department of Justice late Tuesday asked a federal judge in Texas to temporarily halt the controversial new state law that bans abortions after about six weeks. 

The emergency motion seeking a temporary restraining order comes days after the DOJ sued Texas over the law, claiming it was enacted to "prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights." 

The law went into effect on Sept. 1 after being upheld in a 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. It is the strictest abortion law in the country. Critics say many women don’t yet know they’re pregnant at six weeks – around the time when a fetal heartbeat can first be detected – and the law makes no exceptions for rape or incest. 

"It’s clearly unconstitutional," Attorney General Merrick Garland said last Thursday. "The obvious and expressly acknowledged intention of this statutory scheme is to prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights."

Attorney General Merrick Garland announces a lawsuit to block the enforcement of a new Texas law that bans most abortions, at the Justice Department in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Texas Heartbeat Act, or S.B. 8, was signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in May and empowers private citizens to enforce it by allowing them to sue anyone who allegedly helps a woman get an abortion illegally. 


"Texas devised an unprecedented scheme that seeks to deny women and providers the ability to challenge [the law] in federal court," the department wrote. "This attempt to shield a plainly unconstitutional law from review cannot stand."

In this March 16, 2020, file photo, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference in San Antonio. Gov. Abbott, in defending Texas' near-ban on abortions, says women and girls who are raped won't be forced to give birth because the new law "provides at least six weeks for a person to be able to get an abortion." (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File) (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

The DOJ argued the law is in conflict with Roe v. Wade and "a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy before viability."


In a statement to Fox News, Abbott's press secretary Renae Eze said, "The most precious freedom is life itself. Texas passed a law that ensures that the life of every child with a heartbeat will be spared from the ravages of abortion. Unfortunately, President Biden and his Administration are more interested in changing the national narrative from their disastrous Afghanistan evacuation and reckless open border policies instead of protecting the innocent unborn. We are confident that the courts will uphold and protect that right to life."

Fox News' Jessica Chasmar contributed to this report.