The 24 attorneys general, all Democrats, said the new law is “in direct contravention of nearly a half-century of Supreme Court precedent” and has “banned nearly all pre-viability abortions within its borders.”
The law bans most abortions by requiring doctors to test for a fetal heartbeat before carrying out the termination of an unborn child. If a heartbeat is detected, the doctor is barred from doing an abortion unless he or she deems the situation to be a medical emergency.
The measure blocks state officials from enforcing it. Instead, private citizens can sue doctors or people who allegedly aid in illegal abortions if they believe one has occurred.
The two dozen attorneys general, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, say (pdf) that they have a responsibility to protect clinicians who work in their states and are licensed in other states and to ensure each state abides by constitutional obligations, because reducing access to abortion in one state can lead to people seeking the procedure in other states, which could burden health care systems and result in limited access for those other states’ own residents.
They cited a story from a Texas publication that alleged that this was already happening in New Mexico because of the Texas law.
In addition, the officials in the filing expressed concern about people in their states who may be subject to lawsuits for providing support to family or friends who get an abortion in Texas and residents who temporarily reside in Texas, such as students, who want to get an abortion there.
“Amici States have a significant interest in protecting our residents from vexatious and costly litigation, particularly when such litigation is predicated on nothing more than their involvement in constitutionally protected activity,” the attorneys general wrote.
Every Democratic attorney general, except for Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, signed onto the amicus brief.
Miller needs the approval of the governor to join out-of-state cases, under a 2019 agreement with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. Miller recommended signing on to the brief but Reynolds declined, a spokeswoman told The Epoch Times in an email.
The brief came in support of the Department of Justice, which filed a lawsuit last week seeking to block the Texas law because officials argue it’s unconstitutional under Supreme Court rulings such as Roe v. Wade.
Complicating the matter, though, is the Supreme Court deciding earlier this month to not immediately stop the law from taking effect. In a narrow 5–4 ruling, the majority said abortion providers in a separate lawsuit hadn’t met the burden to do so in their bid for a preliminary injunction.
The Department of Justice also asked the Supreme Court on Sept. 14 to block the law until the court makes a final decision on it.
Abortion providers say approximately 85 to 90 percent of abortions aren’t allowed to be carried out under the law, which the Republican-controlled Texas legislature approved before it was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott.
Republican attorneys general haven’t yet weighed in on the case, USA v. Texas, which is being defended by Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton.