A hearing in the Justice Department’s lawsuit against the state of Texas over its ”heartbeat bill” is scheduled for Friday.
The Biden administration, after the law went into effect earlier this month, announced that it would sue the state over the law known as Senate Bill 8, which allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone who assists in the procedure.
The law, as reported by The New York Times, makes it “difficult to challenge in the courts” since the lawsuit does not name state officials as defendants. Rather, the defendants in this lawsuit are private citizens who “have no connection to the patient or the clinic.”
The Texas Tribune reports that both state and federal lawyers will give their arguments at Friday’s hearing, which is being overseen by Judge Robert L. Pitman of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.
The DOJ argues that Texas has flouted “settled constitutional law” that “a State may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability.”
The federal government also states that S.B. 8 “conflicts with federal law by purporting to prohibit federal agencies from carrying out their responsibilities under federal law related to abortion services,” and that since S.B. 8 does not make exceptions for rape or incest, “its terms purport to prohibit the federal government and its employees and agents from performing, funding, reimbursing, or facilitating abortions in such cases.”
Texas’ argument states that “if the Department of Justice wants to expand its authority, it should direct its requests to Congress, not this Court.”
As they consider similar abortion restrictions, other states are watching the court’s ruling in the Texas case. In addition, Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that gave women the right to legally access abortion throughout the United States, might again be back before the high court for a ruling on whether the decision is constitutional.