It is a victory for the progressives, but it is not yet final. A Texas federal judge on Wednesday (October 6) blocked a controversial law banning the majority of abortions in that state, as part of a complaint filed by the administration of President Joe Biden.
“This court will not allow this shocking deprivation of such an important right to continue one more day”, wrote Judge Robert Pitman in his ruling. Texas can no longer enforce this legislation for the time being, but it can appeal.
US Justice Minister Merrick Garland spoke in a statement to“A victory for women in Texas and for the rule of law”. “We will continue to protect the constitutional rights of all who seek to undermine them. “
Supported by Republicans, the legislation in question entered into force on 1er September. It prohibits the recourse to abortion once the heartbeat of the embryo can be detected, that is to say at about six weeks of pregnancy. However, at this stage, most women do not know they are pregnant. This law does not provide for an exception in the event of incest or rape, but only in the event of a medical emergency.
In recent years, comparable laws have been passed by a dozen other conservative states and have been struck down in court because they violate the United States Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on the matter. This guarantees the right of women to have an abortion as long as the fetus is not viable, ie around 22 weeks of pregnancy.
But the text of Texas has a unique device: it confides “Exclusively” it is up to citizens to ensure that the measure is respected, by encouraging them to file a complaint against organizations or people who help women to have illegal abortions.
“An unconstitutional law”, according to family planning
The Supreme Court of the United States, where the conservative justices have a clear majority, invoked these “New questions of procedure” to refuse, a month ago, to block the law as requested by defenders of the right to abortion.
The federal government then entered the legal arena, invoking its interest in upholding the constitutional rights of Americans.
“For over a month, Texans have been denied access to abortion because of an unconstitutional law that should never have come into force”Alexis McGill Johnson, president of family planning giant Planned Parenthood, responded in a statement. Recalling that “The battle is far from over”, Mme McGill Johnson was delighted that clinics could resume performing abortions.
“Although the court ruling gives us a sigh of relief, the threat of an abortion ban in Texas continues to hover over the state.”, announced Brigitte Amiri, of the civil rights organization ACLU. We already know that the politicians behind this law will stop at nothing until abortion is completely banned. “
Joe Biden’s support
On the contrary, the group of abortion opponents Susan B. Anthony List denounced the decision of“An unelected judge” while “The people of Texas have spoken through their representatives and want to protect babies with beating hearts”.
Democratic President Joe Biden promised in September “An immediate response” of his government, to whom he had ordered to find “Measures to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortion”.
Last week, tens of thousands of women demonstrated in the United States to defend the right to abortion. “No matter where you are, this fight is at your doorstep today”, had launched Alexis McGill Johnson in Washington.