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White House press secretary Jen Psaki denounced a new Texas abortion law as an “assault” on women’s rights.
“This is the most restrictive measure yet in the nation,” the press secretary said in a briefing Thursday. She called the law an “assault on women’s fundamental rights under Roe v. Wade.”
“Critical rights continue to come under withering and extreme attack around the country,” Psaki added.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill Wednesday that would ban abortion after detection of a fetal heartbeat, or around six weeks into a pregnancy. Current legislation banned abortions after 20 weeks.
Texas joins six other states in banning abortion after six weeks but has its own unique enforcement mechanisms.
Federal courts have mostly blocked the measures in other states from taking effect.
Texas’ law prohibits state officials from enforcing the ban but allows anyone to sue an abortion provider or anyone else who may have helped someone get an abortion after the limit and seek financial damages of up to $10,000 per defendant.
The law, set to take effect Sept. 1, does not include exceptions in cases of rape or incest, but has a provision for medical emergencies.
More than 53,000 abortions were administered in Texas in 2020, according to data from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
Critics said the new law will ban abortion before many women know that they are pregnant.
“For a person with a normal menstrual cycle, that is only two weeks after a missed period,” Dyana Limon-Mercado, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said in a statement. “When you factor in the time it takes to confirm a pregnancy, consider your options and make a decision, schedule an appointment and comply with all the restrictions politicians have already put in place for patients and providers, a six-week ban essentially bans abortion outright.”
Psaki vowed that the Biden administration would continue to fight to “codify” Roe v. Wade.
“Obviously, there are some actions that will be through legal processes and through the courts. Those are decisions for the Department of Justice and others to make,” she said. “But certainly the president supports and believes we should codify Roe v. Wade, and that is his view. Regardless of these backward-looking steps that are being taken in states.”
The Supreme Court this week agreed to take up a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, and abortion rights activists worry that a ruling favorable to the state could lay the groundwork for allowing even more abortion restrictions, including so-called heartbeat bills.
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