Colorado joins coalition in support of U.S. Justice Department’s lawsuit against Texas abortion ban
Sept. 15, 2021 (DENVER)–Attorney General Phil Weiser today joined a coalition of 24 attorneys general in filing a court brief in support of the U.S. Department of Justice’s challenge to Texas’ unconstitutional six week ban on abortions, and the department’s motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction of the law, which went into effect earlier this month.
“I am committed to defending women’s reproductive rights and equality, and Texas’ new law violates longstanding U.S. Supreme Court precedent by denying women their constitutionally protected right to make their own healthcare decisions,” Weiser said. “I am proud to join attorneys general nationwide in defending women’s rights that were clearly established under Roe v. Wade.”
The brief, filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, argues that by banning nearly all pre-viability abortions within Texas’s borders, the law, Senate Bill 8, violates nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent affirming the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before viability. The brief further contends that the Texas Legislature sought to circumvent prior Supreme Court rulings and to prevent judicial review of the law by delegating enforcement authority to private individuals instead of the government and, as such, S.B. 8 is an “unprecedented attack on our constitutional order” and the rule of law.
The coalition contends that the clear purpose of S.B. 8’s private enforcement scheme is to produce 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. The coalition argues that the federal district court should not allow Texas to undermine the constitutionally protected rights recognized in Roe v. Wade through the law’s transparent scheme.
The brief describes how the law is already significantly impacting abortion provider clinics in Texas and beyond, including in states such as Colorado. The law also threatens the many people who help patients in Texas obtain access to an abortion by creating a more than $10,000 potential liability for anyone who so much as gives a patient a ride to an abortion provider or otherwise “aids or abets” an abortion. The coalition of states signing onto the brief are committed to shielding their residents and clinicians from these harms when they help a patient in Texas obtain constitutionally protected care.
Finally, the brief argues that it is essential for the federal district court to keep the law from going into effect immediately because of the irreparable harm that S.B. 8 is inflicting on people in Texas and across the country. Forcing a patient to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, the brief argues, will lead to negative health and socioeconomic consequences, including placing people who are forced to carry a pregnancy to term at greater risk of life-threatening illnesses, injuring their mental health (including by forcing those pregnant on account of rape and incest to carry a child to term), and harming their ability to maintain full-time employment.
Today’s brief was led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and also joined by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.