Some Massachusetts elected officials voiced their support Wednesday night after a federal judge ordered Texas to suspend its abortion law, the most restrictive in the nation.
The law prohibits abortions once a heartbeat can be detected in an embryo, which is usually around six weeks, before some women even know they are pregnant. It had survived several previous challenges, including one before the US Supreme Court.
The US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in Texas last month to block the law known as Senate Bill 8.
US District Judge Robert Pitman called the law an “offensive deprivation” of a constitutional right and said Republican lawmakers had “contrived an unprecedented and transparent statutory scheme” by leaving enforcement solely in the hands of private citizens, who are entitled to collect $10,000 in damages if they bring successful lawsuits against abortion providers who violate the restrictions.
Attorney General Maura Healey, who was one of 24 state attorneys general to file a brief in support of the justice department’s lawsuit, applauded Pitman.
She called the law “a blatantly unconstitutional scheme to undermine” the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade that has guaranteed access to abortion for almost half a century.
“For weeks, patients in Texas have been forced to travel thousands of miles to nearby states to access safe, legal abortion,” Healey said in a statement. “They have driven in the dead of night in secret, for fear of bounty hunters chasing their friends and families. Those who cannot afford the trip have been forced into pregnancy by the state of Texas, forever altering the course of their lives.
“This law is creating dangerous public health and economic ripple effects nationwide,” she continued. “Massachusetts will not abandon vulnerable people and their families. We will continue to defend Roe, abortion providers, and patients from these egregious and unconstitutional attacks.”
US Senator Elizabeth Warren also praised Pitman’s ruling, writing on Twitter that he “acted where SCOTUS refused.”
“Abortion access is under attack and we need to do everything we can to protect people’s reproductive rights,” Warren wrote. “Congress needs to act and pass the Women’s Health Protection Act.”
Thankfully this district court acted where SCOTUS refused. Abortion access is under attack and we need to do everything we can to protect people’s reproductive rights. Congress needs to act and pass the Women’s Health Protection Act.https://t.co/98f6Q3nLVQ— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) October 7, 2021
US Representative Ayanna Pressley wrote that the law “is unconstitutional & should never have been allowed to go into effect in the first place.”
“Tonight we celebrate this win. Tomorrow we keep fighting,” Pressley wrote on Twitter, adding that the Senate needs to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act “to codify abortion rights once & for all.”
That’s right. #SB8 is unconstitutional & should never have been allowed to go into effect in the first place.— Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (@RepPressley) October 7, 2021
Tonight we celebrate this win.
Tomorrow we keep fighting.
The Senate must still pass #WHPA to codify abortion rights once & for all. https://t.co/90aoqzk8MM
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.