President Joe Biden on Wednesday blasted the Texas state law that bans abortion after as early as six weeks into pregnancy as “extreme” and said it “blatantly violates” a woman’s constitutional right to have an abortion, as affirmed by the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.
“Today, Texas law SB8 went into effect. This extreme Texas law blatantly violates the constitutional right established under Roe v. Wade and upheld as precedent for nearly half a century,” Biden said in a statement.
The President continued: “The Texas law will significantly impair women’s access to the health care they need, particularly for communities of color and individuals with low incomes. And, outrageously, it deputizes private citizens to bring lawsuits against anyone who they believe has helped another person get an abortion, which might even include family members, health care workers, front desk staff at a health care clinic, or strangers with no connection to the individual.”
Biden said his administration was “deeply committed” to a woman’s right to have an abortion and that his administration would “protect and defend that right.”
The Texas law prohibits abortion providers from conducting abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is around six weeks into the pregnancy and before some women know they are pregnant. Opponents of the law say it will effectively outlaw at least 85% of abortions sought in the state.
The measure was signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in May and took effect early Wednesday morning after the Supreme Court and a federal appeals court did not rule on attempts to block it.
Instead of imposing a criminal or regulatory punishment for those who conduct abortions after that point in the pregnancy, this law creates a “private right of action” to enforce the restriction. This means private citizens can bring civil litigation with a threat of $10,000 or more in damages against providers or anyone who helped a woman access an abortion after six weeks.
The law was passed earlier this year amid several measures to restrict abortion rights that were approved by Republican legislatures across the country. These restrictions came after Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was nominated by former President Donald Trump after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away, joined the Supreme Court.
Barrett’s confirmation solidified the high court’s conservative majority and made it more likely it would scale back or reverse Roe v. Wade.