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Biden tells federal agencies to find ways ‘insulate women and providers’ from restrictive Texas abortion law

  • President Joe Biden is instructing federal agencies to devise strategies to protect women against a restrictive Texas abortion law.
  • The Texas law bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, a point at which when many are not yet aware they are pregnant.
  • It’s “an unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights under Roe v. Wade,” Biden said.

President Joe Biden on Thursday directed federal agencies to “insulate women and providers” from the restrictive Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

In a statement from the White House, Biden said he’s instructing the Department of Health and Human Services and the Justice Department to “see what steps the Federal Government can take to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions as protected by Roe, and what legal tools we have to insulate women and providers from the impact of Texas’ bizarre scheme of outsourced enforcement to private parties.”

The abortion law took effect in Texas at midnight on Wednesday, after the Supreme Court failed to rule on an emergency petition to block it. The law prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which typically occurs at the six-week mark of pregnancy, a point at which many people are not yet aware that they are pregnant. The law does not provide any exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, signed the “heartbeat” bill into law in May to take effect on September 1. The law is one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion bans and follows a slew of abortion restrictions that GOP-led state legislatures have introduced across the country.

The Texas law calls on private citizens, rather than state officials, to enforce the ban. That means private citizens can file lawsuits against an abortion provider or anyone helping a patient get an abortion in Texas. For every successful case, the private citizen will be awarded at least $10,000, in addition to legal expenses.

Since Wednesday, the Biden administration has repeatedly bashed the law, calling it a violation of a woman’s constitutional rights. 

It’s “an unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights under Roe v. Wade, which has been the law of the land for almost fifty years,” Biden said

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday fired back at a male reporter who asked why the president supports abortion when “his own path of faith” says it’s “morally wrong.”

“I know you’ve never faced those choices, nor have you ever been pregnant, but for women out there who have faced those choices, this is an incredibly difficult thing,” Psaki told the reporter. “The president believes their right should be respected.”

Insider’s Oma Seddiq contributed to this report.

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