President Joe Biden described Texas' new abortion law as "unconstitutional." Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 2 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed Thursday to fight Texas' new six-week abortion ban, which escaped an injunction and was left to stand by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Texas Senate Bill 8, led by Republicans and signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in May, outlaws abortions when a heartbeat is detectable, which is about six weeks into a pregnancy. It will deny the procedure to about 85% of patients who seek it in the state.
The ban is enforced by members of the public who are able to sue anyone who provides or is involved in aiding and performing abortions barred by SB8, including anyone who drives a patient to the procedure.
Late Wednesday, the Supreme Court voted against an emergency petition from abortion providers and advocates to block the law, which Pelosi called a "catastrophe."
"SB8 unleashes one of the most disturbing, unprecedented and far-reaching assaults on healthcare providers -- and on anyone who helps a woman, in any way, access an abortion -- by creating a vigilante bounty system that will have a chilling effect on the provision of any reproductive health care services," Pelosi said in a statement Thursday.
"This provision is a cynical, backdoor attempt by partisan lawmakers to evade the Constitution and the law to destroy not only a woman's right to healthcare but potentially any right or protection that partisan lawmakers target."
Pelosi criticized the high court for upholding the law without a briefing, hearing oral arguments or providing a full, signed opinion. She said the purpose of the restrictive Texas law is to "destroy" Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case that protects women's right to choose to have an abortion.
"This ban necessitates codifying Roe vs. Wade," Pelosi said. "Upon our return, the House will bring up congresswoman Judy Chu's Women's Health Protection Act to enshrine into law reproductive health care for all women across America.
Chu's legislation would guarantee women access to abortions and protect doctors who provide them, codifying the Roe vs. Wade ruling into law.
It's unclear if the evenly split Senate would have the 60 votes necessary to pass the bill.
Biden also condemned the court's decision, calling it an "unprecedented assault on a woman's constitutional rights."
"It unleashes unconstitutional chaos and empowers self-anointed enforcers to have devastating impacts.
"This law is so extreme it does not even allow for exceptions in the case of rape or incest."
Biden said he has instructed his administration to respond to the law.
"I am directing that [the Gender Policy Council] and the Office of the White House Counsel to launch a whole-of-government effort to respond to this decision, looking specifically to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice to see what steps the federal government can take to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions ... and what legal tools we have to insulate women and providers from the impact of Texas' bizarre scheme of outsourced enforcement to private parties," he said.