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Justice Department calls on U.S. judge to block enforcement of restrictive Texas abortion law

The Justice Department on Tuesday asked a federal judge to immediately block Texas’ restrictive ban on abortions beyond six weeks pregnant while the case makes its way through the court system.

The Justice Department asked the judge to issue a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction, which would put the law on hold and ban enforcement until the case is resolved.

“Texas has developed an unprecedented program that seeks to deny women and claimants the ability to challenge SB 8 in federal court. This attempt to protect a clearly unconstitutional law from review cannot stand, ”the agency said in a brief filed Tuesday night. “This relief is necessary to protect the constitutional rights of women in Texas and the sovereign interest of the United States. ”

The DOJ sued the state of Texas last week over a new law, called Senate Bill 8, which bans abortions after about six weeks, before most women even know they are pregnant. . The law is particularly nefarious in that it effectively delegates private citizens to prosecute anyone accused of “aiding and abetting” those seeking an abortion illegally in the state.

Anyone bringing an action under the terms of SB 8 can receive a bounty of up to $ 10,000, and the law was drafted specifically to be difficult to challenge in court.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland said last week the bill was an “unprecedented” attempt to deprive women of their constitutional rights.

“This type of plan to overturn the Constitution of the United States is a project that all Americans – regardless of their politics or party – should fear,” Garland said. “If it wins, it can become a model for action in other areas, by other states, and with respect to other constitutional rights and judicial precedents. “

The Supreme Court refused to block the law earlier this month in a 5-4 decision, a stark defeat for abortion rights advocates that prompted liberal court judges to castigate their conservative colleagues.

“The court order is astounding,” Judge Sonia Sotomayor wrote in scathing dissent. “Presented with a request to ban a clearly unconstitutional law designed to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evading judicial scrutiny, a majority of judges chose to stick their heads in the sand . “

Abortion rights groups have said the new law will force tens of thousands of women to travel out of state to have an abortion, a huge financial and emotional burden. Women’s rights groups also fear that Senate Bill 8 could become a model that other states could copy in an attempt to restrict access to safe and legal abortions.

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