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Joe Biden administration files lawsuit against Texas over abortion law

The Justice Department argues the law unlawfully infringes on the constitutional rights of women and violates the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.

AUSTIN, Texas — President Joe Biden said shortly after the Texas abortion law went into effect that he planned to take action. Now, the Biden administration has sued the State of Texas over the controversial law, according to a lawsuit obtained by KVUE.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Texas, asks a federal judge to declare that the law is invalid, “to enjoin its enforcement, and to protect the rights that Texas has violated.”

“The act is clearly unconstitutional under longstanding Supreme Court precedent,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. “The United States has the authority and responsibility to ensure that no state can deprive individuals of their constitutional rights through a legislative scheme specifically designed to prevent the vindication of those rights.” 

The Justice Department argues the law unlawfully infringes on the constitutional rights of women and violates the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, which says federal law supersedes state law. Federal officials are also concerned other states could enact similar laws that would “deprive their citizens of their constitutional rights," he said.

“It is settled constitutional law that ‘a State may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability,’” the lawsuit reads. “But Texas has done just that.”

Texas' abortion law, which took effect Sept. 1, bans most abortions in the state, the most restrictive abortion law in the U.S. Senate Bill 8, deemed the "Heartbeat Act," bans abortions when cardiac activity can be detected in a fetus. That typically happens when a woman is six weeks pregnant, and before most women learn they are pregnant.

Supporters of the law call the lawsuit filed by DOJ a move made in desperation.

"They're taking desperate measures because the Texas Heartbeat Act is unprecedented. Other states are hoping to model the Texas Heartbeat Act," Elizabeth Graham, the Vice President for Texas Right to Life, said. "The abortion industry is desperate to stop this law from saving the lives that it's already saved and from saving future lives."

Opponents of the law supporting the suit filed by DOJ say they feel encouraged.

"We have two other branches of government that are demonstrating very publicly and very effectively their commitment to restoring reproductive rights for everybody," Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder and CEO of Whole Woman's Health, said.

The only exception to the law is when a mother's life is in danger. Survivors of rape and incest are not exempt from the law. 

It's the most restrictive abortion law that's been passed since the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion across the country. 

At least 12 other states have passed similar legislation, but none of that legislation has taken effect due to legal challenges.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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