The emergency motion seeks a temporary restraining order comes days after the DOJ sued Texas over the law, claiming it was enacted to “prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights.”
The law went into effect on Sept. 1 after being upheld in a 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. It is the strictest abortion law in the country. Critics say many women don’t yet know they’re pregnant at six weeks – around the time when a fetal heartbeat can first be detected – and the law makes no exceptions for rape or incest.
“It’s clearly unconstitutional,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland said last Thursday. “The obvious and expressly acknowledged intention of this statutory scheme is to prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights.”
The Texas Heartbeat Act, or S.B. 8, was signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in May and empowers private citizens to enforce it by allowing them to sue anyone who allegedly helps a woman get an abortion illegally.
“Texas devised an unprecedented scheme that seeks to deny women and providers the ability to challenge [the law] in federal court,” the department wrote. “This attempt to shield a plainly unconstitutional law from review cannot stand.”
The DOJ argued the law is in conflict with Roe v. Wade and “a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy before viability.”
In response to last week’s lawsuit, Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s press secretary Renae Eze said, “The most precious freedom is life itself. Texas passed a law that ensures that the life of every child with a heartbeat will be spared from the ravages of abortion. Unfortunately, President Biden and his Administration are more interested in changing the national narrative from their disastrous Afghanistan evacuation and reckless open border policies instead of protecting the innocent unborn. We are confident that the courts will uphold and protect that right to life.”
Abbott’s office didn’t immediately respond to Fox News’ late-night request for comment.
Fox News’ Jessica Chasmar contributed to this report.