Attorney General Rosenblum and 23 other Attorneys General filed an amicus brief in support of the U.S. Department of Justice’s (US DOJ) challenge to Texas’ unconstitutional ban on abortions after six weeks. The brief, filed today in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, supports US DOJ’s motion for a preliminary injunction to put a stop to the new law immediately.
By banning nearly all pre-viability abortions within Texas, the law, Senate Bill 8 (SB8), violates nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent affirming the constitutional right to an abortion. The Texas legislature sought to circumvent other Supreme Court rulings by giving enforcement authority to private individuals instead of the government in an “unprecedented attack on our constitutional order” and the rule of law.
“This anti-abortion law is unequivocally unconstitutional. By turning private citizens into ‘bounty hunters’ targeting anyone, including medical professionals, who assists someone in obtaining an abortion, Texas is ignoring well-established legal rights and federal law. It is shocking that Texas would seek to skirt the constitution so blatantly, ” said Attorney General Rosenblum. “We are at a crucial moment in the fight to keep abortion accessible, safe and legal. As Oregon’s attorney general, I am glad to be able to join this national fight for bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom.”
The Attorneys General argue that SB 8’s private enforcement scheme produces an “across-the-board ban on constitutionally protected activity,” and that the private enforcement mechanism does not shield Texas’s unconstitutional law from judicial review. They also argue that it is essential for the federal district court to grant a preliminary injunction of the law to stop the irreparable harm that SB 8 is inflicting on people in Texas and across the country, particularly in nearby states. Clinics in nearby states are already reporting a rise in calls from Texas patients seeking abortions, and one day after the law went into effect, all abortion clinics in New Mexico were reportedly booked for weeks. This rise in abortion caseloads in other states from Texas patients and the increase in needed travel for patients could result in many people – especially low-income people – being unable to receive the care they need. The law also threatens the many people who help patients in Texas obtain access to an abortion by creating more than $10,000 in potential liability for anyone who so much as gives a patient a ride to a provider or otherwise helps. The states are committed to shielding their residents and clinicians from these harms when they help a patient in Texas obtain constitutionally protected care.
In addition to Oregon, the amicus brief was joined by California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.