WASHINGTON — President Biden said Wednesday that the newly implemented Texas law that restricts access to potentially lifesaving abortion procedures “blatantly violates the constitutional right” established under Roe v. Wade.
The law, which bans nearly all abortions in the state of Texas after six weeks of pregnancy, is the country’s most restrictive abortion law since the court’s ruling on Roe in the 1970s. The Texas law enables private citizens, as opposed to officials, to sue those involved in an abortion, including an individual who drives or transports a woman to her procedure.
The law, which prohibits doctors from conducting abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, makes no exception for pregnancies that are a result of rape or incest.
The Supreme Court chose not to weigh in on a much-anticipated emergency appeal that would have stopped its implementation.
In his written statement, Biden did not mention the highest court’s decision not to take up the case, and instead chastised the overwhelmingly conservative Texas Legislature’s law.
“The Texas law will significantly impair women’s access to the health care they need, particularly for communities of color and individuals with low incomes,” Biden said. “And, outrageously, it deputizes private citizens to bring lawsuits against anyone who they believe has helped another person get an abortion, which might even include family members, health care workers, front-desk staff at a health care clinic or strangers with no connection to the individual.”
Then, on Thursday, Biden released an updated statement calling the Supreme Court's inaction an "unprecedented assault" on women's rights.
"Rather than use its supreme authority to ensure justice could be fairly sought, the highest Court of our land will allow millions of women in Texas in need of critical reproductive care to suffer while courts sift through procedural complexities. The dissents by Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan all demonstrate the error of the Court's action here powerfully," said Biden, who added that he is exploring potential intervention options by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice.
"Without a hearing or due consideration, the majority of justices effectively allowed a bounty law to go into effect in Texas, and an abortion ban after about six weeks of pregnancy even in cases of rape or incest," Vice President Kamala Harris wrote in a statement Thursday, echoing Biden. "We will not abide by cash incentives for virtual vigilantes and intimidation for patients. We will use every lever of our Administration to defend the right to safe and legal abortion—and to strengthen that right."
Lottie Shackelford, chair of the national arm of the Democratic National Committee’s women's caucus, called the legislation “shameful.”
“Republicans in state legislatures across the country have engaged in a coordinated effort to dismantle Roe v. Wade and its 50 years of precedent. Without court intervention, this law will create a two-tier health care system for Texans because of Republicans’ desire to impose their extremist, unpopular, and dangerous political agenda on Americans,” Shackelford wrote in a statement released by the DNC.
Biden stressed that his administration is committed to codifying Roe v. Wade, a campaign-trail promise he has been unable to deliver on through legislation in a politically gridlocked Congress. Any attempt by the White House to push an abortion rights bill through Capitol Hill would likely fail before it began.
“My administration is deeply committed to the constitutional right established in Roe v. Wade nearly five decades ago and will protect and defend that right,” Biden concluded.
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