On Monday, the Justice Department filed an emergency application with the Supreme Court asking to it bar the implementation of a new Texas law banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The application, signed by Acting U.S. Solicitor General Brian Fletcher, asks the high court to block the controversial Texas law known as ‘Senate Bill 8’ until legal challenges against it run their course. The government said that Senate Bill 8 defies a “half a century” of Supreme Court precedents holding that “a state may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability.” The DOJ argued that the Texas law violates the Court’s landmark rulings in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey and Roe vs. Wade “by banning abortion long before viability — indeed, before many women even realize they are pregnant.”
Monday’s filing comes after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week sided against the Justice Department and allowed Texas’ abortion ban, the most restrictive in the nation, to stand. The three-judge panel ruled 2-1 Thursday against the Justice Department’s request to block the law on the grounds of it being unconstitutional, staying an earlier ruling by Judge Robert Pitman of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.
The controversial law went into effect Sept. 1 banning physicians from performing abortions once cardiac activity of the fetus is detected, which generally occurs at around the six-week mark of a pregnancy and before many women even know they are pregnant. The ban is enforced by the public, who are incentivized to sue through civil court anyone who performs, aids or abets an abortion.