Justice Department to ask Supreme Court to block Texas abortion ban

·1 min read

Texas’ first-of-its-kind abortion ban appears headed back to the nation’s highest court.

The Biden administration on Friday confirmed it will petition the Supreme Court to block the law after a federal appeals court extended an order on Thursday night that kept it in place. The law bans abortions once cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks, and delegates enforcement to private citizens rather than government officials.

“The Justice Department intends to ask the Supreme Court to vacate the 5th Circuit’s stay of the preliminary injunction against Texas Senate Bill 8,” DOJ spokesperson Anthony Coley said in a statement to reporters.

The move gives the justices a chance to once again consider a law they declined to block last month, a decision that made Texas the first state to ban abortion early in pregnancy since the landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalized the procedure in 1973.

The state’s ban was briefly blocked by a lower court earlier this month but was reinstated just 48 hours later by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The law includes no exemptions for victims of rape or incest, and has prompted patients as young as 12 to seek out abortion clinics hours away in neighboring states.

On Thursday night, a panel at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals split 2-1 on keeping Texas’ law in place while litigation continues — the court’s third decision in favor of the ban over the last few months.

The Supreme Court is already preparing to hear a separate case in early December surrounding a Mississippi abortion ban that represents a direct challenge to Roe, but could decide to hear the Biden administration’s challenge on Texas before that date.

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