Today, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the United States Department of Justice is filing a lawsuit against the State of Texas regarding SB 8, a law that effectively bans abortion as early as six weeks of pregnancy. The American Humanist Association (AHA) applauds this decision by the Justice Department and will continue to help fight for abortion access and reproductive healthcare access across the nation.
“Texas is in open defiance of the Constitution, as the Justice Department says in its filing,” said AHA President Sunil Panikkath. “A state acting under the color of law to deprive citizens of their constitutional rights necessitates a forceful response and we hope the Attorney General persists with this suit and all other possible mechanisms to stop this naked aggression on the rights of those who seek abortion.”
Texas SB 8 bans abortions before many people even know they are pregnant. Abortion access has already been seriously impacted since the law went into effect on September 1st, with major clinics cancelling or refusing to schedule appointments due to the threat of lawsuits. Other states in the region are concerned about their clinics being inundated with patients from Texas who will have to travel outside that state for abortion access.
The central rationale of the lawsuit is summarized where the filing states, “The United States therefore may sue a State to vindicate the rights of individuals when a state infringes on rights protected by the Constitution. And such an effort is particularly warranted where, as here, private citizens are—by design—substantially burdened in vindicating their own rights.”
“The federal government’s lawsuit is proof of the strength of our Constitution and the power of legal precedent,” said Monica Miller, Legal Director & Senior Counsel at the AHA’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “The Department of Justice is doing its job by protecting the core rights of citizens.”
The involvement of the Justice Department is an appropriate response to the state’s efforts to evade its constitutional obligations by crafting the law in such a way as to encourage people to inform on their neighbors and control behavior through the filing of lawsuits by fellow citizens.