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The Justice Department is suing Texas over a new law that bans almost all abortions

Debra Sweet holds up a sign as she joins the people who gathered in downtown Brooklyn, New York City for a reproductive rights rally at Brooklyn Borough Hall on September 01, 2021.

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

The Justice Department on Thursday sued Texas over its restrictive new abortion law, saying the state legislature enacted the law "in open defiance of the constitution."

The lawsuit comes after the Supreme Court, stacked 6-3 with Conservative judges, refused last week to block the controversial abortion law, which bans almost all abortions as early as six weeks of gestation.

President Joe Biden had blown the High Court judgment overnight, saying it "insulted the rule of law." Attorney General Merrick Garland said at the time the Justice Department was examining "all options to protect women's constitutional rights, including access to an abortion."

Garland announced the civil lawsuit against Texas at 3 p.m. ET press conference.

"The law is clearly unconstitutional," said Garland.

The 30-page lawsuit against the Lone Star State, filed in federal court in Austin, also accuses Texas of having "an unprecedented system" in place to protect the abortion law from legal challenge by empowering individuals to be "bounty hunters." "To serve against those who seek or help obtain abortions.

The government is calling on the court to invalidate, null and void the Abortion Act and prevent Texas from enforcing it in any way.

"This type of plan to repeal the United States Constitution is one that all Americans, regardless of politics or party, should fear," Garland said Thursday. "If it prevails, it can become a model for action in other areas, by other states, and in relation to other constitutional rights and jurisdiction."

"You don't have to think long to see the damage our society would be done if states were allowed to pass laws that empower any private individual to violate the constitutionally protected rights of others in this way," the US said -General Attorney General.

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The law, signed by Republican Governor Greg Abbott in May, prohibits abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, which usually occurs around the sixth week of pregnancy. At this point, many women do not yet know that they have become pregnant.

Legislation, S.B. 8 contains an exception for medical emergencies, but not for pregnancies due to rape or incest. Abbott defended the law this week, saying its goal was "to eradicate rape so that no woman, no one is rape".

Attorney General Merrick Garland announces a lawsuit to block enforcement of the new Texas law banning most abortions at the Justice Department in Washington on Thursday, September 9, 2021.

J. Scott Applewhite | AP

Rather than hiring officials or law enforcement agencies to enforce the ban, the law empowers individuals to file civil suits against abortion providers or anyone who “helps or assists” with an abortion after the six-week period has expired. These lawsuits can earn at least $ 10,000 in "legal damages" per abortion.

Critics say these rules effectively set up a bounty system to circumvent abortion rights introduced in the groundbreaking Roe v. Wade of the Supreme Court of 1973.

But the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, denied an urgency motion by abortion law advocates for an injunction to halt the September 1st abortion law from going into effect.

The majority, which included all three judges appointed by former President Donald Trump, wrote in a one-paragraph judgment that the petitioners "had not borne their burden" on complex procedural issues raised in the case.

However, they noted that "this order is not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas law".

Judge Sonia Sotomayor, on the other hand, wrote that Texas had "effectively represented the citizens of the state as bounty hunters and offered them cash prizes for prosecuting their neighbors' medical practices."

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