Justice Department asks judge to block Texas from enforcing controversial abortion law

The Justice Department has asked a federal judge to issue an emergency order preventing Texas from enforcing a law that bans nearly all abortions, saying that this move by the state prevents “women from exercising their constitutional rights”.

In the first such legal pushback by president Joe Biden’s administration, the department has sought a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction prohibiting the controversial law’s implementation, saying it will have far-reaching consequences for women’s reproductive rights.

In its brief, the department has said: “This relief is necessary to protect the constitutional rights of women in Texas and the sovereign interest of the United States.”

The law — Senate Bill 8 — bans abortion in women once a medical professional detects cardiac activity in a foetus, which occurs usually around six weeks, an early stage where most women won’t be able to tell if they are pregnant.

It has been viewed as part of a broader policy move by Republicans nationwide pushing to outlaw most medical terminations of pregnancy, and has sparked a wave of protests from people defending women’s right to choose.

The legislation has also been criticised strongly by Mr Biden, who has called it “almost un-American” and vowed help from the federal administration to “ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions”.

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