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The U.S. Department of Justice is seeking orders against the Texas abortion law

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Justice has asked a federal court in Texas to stop enforcing a new state law that bans most abortions in the state while it settles the case.

The Texas law, known as SB8, bans abortions when doctors can detect cardiac activity – usually about six weeks before some women know they are pregnant. Courts have blocked other states from imposing similar restrictions, but Texas law differs significantly because it leaves enforcement to private citizens through civil lawsuits instead of criminal prosecutions.

The law came into force earlier this month after the Supreme Court rejected an appeal from abortion providers requesting that the law be closed.

In Tuesday night’s emergency movement in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, the Department of Justice said “a court can impose a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction as a way to prevent harm to the mover before the court can rule the disputed claims in full. “

The case was handed over to U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman.

Last week, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in Texas asking a federal judge to declare the law invalid because it illegally violates women’s constitutional rights and violates the Supremacy Clause of Constitution, which says federal law replaces state law.

The department made a similar argument when requesting a restraining order or a temporary injunction, saying that the challenge was likely to be successful.

“When other states have enacted laws that shorten reproductive rights to the extent that SB 8 does, courts have ordered enforcement of the laws before they could enter into force. In an effort to avoid this result, Texas devised an unparalleled system that seeks to deny women and suppliers the opportunity to challenge SB 8 in federal court. This attempt to protect a manifest constitutional law from review can not stand. “

Under Texas law, anyone can sue – even if they have no connection to the woman having an abortion – and may be entitled to at least $ 10,000 in damages if they prevail in court.

The Texas law is the nation’s largest brake protection against abortion since the Supreme Court in landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade confirmed that women have a constitutional right to abortion.

Abortion providers have said they will follow, but already some of Texas’ approximately two dozen abortion clinics have temporarily stopped offering abortion services altogether. Clinics in neighboring states have meanwhile seen an increase in patients from Texas.

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