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President Biden pledges to launch investigative effort in response to SCOTUS ruling on Texas abortion ban

President Joe Biden called the Supreme Court's refusal to block the "Texas Heartbeat Act" an "unprecedented assault on a woman's constitutional rights."

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to deny an emergency appeal that sought to block enforcement of Texas' new abortion ban – a decision that President Joe Biden is not happy about.

The SCOTUS said its decision to allow the so-called "Texas Heartbeat Act" (Senate Bill 8), which bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, to stand was not a response to the constitutionality of the law and "in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law, including in Texas state courts." 

But President Biden said the court's refusal to block the law was a misuse of power and "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."

"Rather than use its supreme authority to ensure justice could be fairly sought, the highest Court of our land will allow millions of women in Texas in need of critical reproductive care to suffer while courts sift through procedural complexities," President Biden said in a statement. "The dissents by Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan all demonstrate the error of the Court's action here powerfully."

President Biden said that while the action is not a final ruling on the future of Roe v. Wade, the impact of the court's decision will be immediate and requires an immediate response. That's why he is directing that Council and the Office of the White House Counsel launch a "whole-of-government effort" to respond to the court's decision.

The effort will look specifically to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice to determine what steps the federal government can take to ensure Texas women's access to safe and legal abortions and what legal tools are available "to insulate women and providers from the impact of Texas' bizarre scheme of outsourced enforcement to private parties."

President Biden had already spoken out against Senate Bill 8 prior to the SCOTUS decision. On Wednesday, the president called the bill a blatant violation of the constitutional right established under Roe v. Wade and vowed that his administration would protect and defend that right.

Read the president's full statement in response to the SCOTUS decision below:

"The Supreme Court’s ruling overnight is 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. By allowing a law to go into effect that empowers private citizens in Texas to sue health care providers, family members supporting a woman exercising her right to choose after six weeks, or even a friend who drives her to a hospital or clinic, it unleashes unconstitutional chaos and empowers self-anointed enforcers to have devastating impacts. Complete strangers will now be empowered to inject themselves in the most private and personal health decisions faced by women. This law is so extreme it does not even allow for exceptions in the case of rape or incest. And it not only empowers complete strangers to inject themselves into the most private of decisions made by a woman—it actually incentivizes them to do so with the prospect of $10,000 if they win their case. For the majority to do this without a hearing, without the benefit of an opinion from a court below, and without due consideration of the issues, insults the rule of law and the rights of all Americans to seek redress from our courts. Rather than use its supreme authority to ensure justice could be fairly sought, the highest Court of our land will allow millions of women in Texas in need of critical reproductive care to suffer while courts sift through procedural complexities. The dissents by Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan all demonstrate the error of the Court's action here powerfully.

While the Chief Justice was clear to stress that the action by the Supreme Court is not a final ruling on the future of Roe, the impact of last night's decision will be immediate and requires an immediate response. One reason I became the first president in history to create a Gender Policy Council was to be prepared to react to such assaults on women's rights. Hence, I am directing that 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 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."

ADDITIONAL RELATED STORIES:

No, Texas’ heartbeat bill does not allow abortions in the case of rape or incest, but makes an exception if the mother’s life is in danger

Yes, private citizens are tasked with enforcing the new Texas abortion law and could be awarded $10,000

Texas' 'Heartbeat Act' is now law. How would lawsuits work?