Biden government to ask Supreme Court to block Texas abortion ban

Washington (AFP) –

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President Joe Biden's administration on Friday said it would ask the Supreme Court to block a ban on most abortions in Texas, in the latest stage of a national battle over reproductive rights.

Last month, the US Supreme Court cited procedural issues when it decided by a 5-4 vote against intervening to block the highly restrictive Texas law.

It did not rule on the merits of the case brought by abortion providers.

Biden's administration has vowed to fight the Texas ban, citing its interest in upholding Americans' constitutional rights.

At stake is the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, which enshrined a woman's legal right to an abortion.

In a complex legal wrangle, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last week effectively reinstated the ban in Texas on most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

"The Justice Department intends to ask the Supreme Court to vacate the Fifth Circuit's stay," department spokesman Anthony Coley said Friday.

The "Texas Heartbeat Act" allows members of the public to sue doctors who perform abortions, or anyone who helps facilitate them, once a fetal heartbeat is detected -- usually at around six weeks.

They can be rewarded with $10,000 for initiating cases that lead to prosecution, prompting charges that the law encourages people to act as vigilantes.

The law makes no exception for victims of rape or incest.

If the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, every state would be free to ban or allow abortions.