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Justice Department asking federal judge to halt enforcement of Texas' abortion law

The brief, filed late Tuesday, follows a suit brought by the Biden administration last week

Updated: September 15, 2021 - 7:46am

The Justice Department late Tuesday asked a federal judge to issue a temporary restraining order to halt the enforcement of the Texas law that bans most abortions following the six-week point of the pregnancy.

"The United States has the authority to seek redress from this Court against the State of Texas, particularly in light of the procedural obstacles that Texas erected to shield S.B. 8 from judicial scrutiny in suits by directly affected persons," the department argues in its request. 

Justice attorneys also said the law has "gravely and irreparably impaired women's ability to exercise their constitutional right to an abortion" in the state of Texas.

Under the law, abortion is barred once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which sometimes occurs before the woman knows she is pregnant. The law provides no exemptions for rape or incest, but does carve out an exception if the life of the mother is at stake. 

The brief follows the suit that the Biden administration filed against Texas last week asserting that the law was established in Texas in "open defiance" of the Constitution. Attorneys at Justice are attempting to stall the enforcement of the law as the legal challenge makes its way through the courts, which could happen relatively quickly.

The Texas law, which could end up on the Supreme Court's docket, arrives as the high court is scheduled, sometime in fall or winter, to take up a Mississippi abortion case that is meant to serve as a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.

A recent 5-4 Supreme Court decisions allowed the Texas law to remain in effect.