The Department of Justice (DOJ) late on Tuesday submitted an emergency motion seeking to block a new abortion law in the state of Texas that makes the procedure illegal if a fetal heartbeat is detectable.
The filing, submitted to the U.S. District Court in Austin, Texas, comes just days after the department filed a lawsuit against the state over SB8, which went into effect on Sept. 1. The DOJ argued on Tuesday that the measure was passed “to prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights.”
“This attempt to shield a plainly unconstitutional law from review cannot stand. The United States seeks a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction enjoining the enforcement of S.B. 8,” the DOJ said in their motion.
Under the new Texas law, people are authorized to bring lawsuits against doctors who perform illegal abortions and anyone suspected of assisting a pregnant person obtain an abortion. Plaintiffs who succeed may be awarded at least $10,000.
“This relief is necessary to protect the constitutional rights of women in Texas and the sovereign interest of the United States,” the department added in a statement.
Officials with the department wrote that it is “also necessary to protect federal agencies, employees, and contractors whose lawful actions S.B. 8 purports to prohibit.”
“The United States has the authority and responsibility to ensure that Texas cannot insulate itself from judicial review for its constitutional violations and to protect the important federal interests that S.B. 8 impair,” the department’s motion states.
Last week, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the department had filed a lawsuit against the state seeking to block the new law.
Government attorneys in the lawsuit, obtained by The Epoch Times, argue that the newly enacted law runs counter to previous Supreme Court rulings, including Roe v. Wade, which found that access to abortion is a constitutional right.
“The act is clearly unconstitutional under longstanding Supreme Court precedent,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said during a news conference in Washington announcing the suit. “Those precedents hold in the words of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, ‘Regardless of whether exceptions are made for particular circumstances, a State may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability.’”
Following the DOJ’s lawsuit last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s press secretary Renae Eze said, “The most precious freedom is life itself.
“Texas passed a law that ensures that the life of every child with a heartbeat will be spared from the ravages of abortion. Unfortunately, President Biden and his administration are more interested in changing the national narrative from their disastrous Afghanistan evacuation and reckless open border policies instead of protecting the innocent unborn. We are confident that the courts will uphold and protect that right to life,” Eze said.
It isn’t yet clear when the judge might rule on the department’s emergency motion request.
Representatives for Abbott’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.