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  • Writer's pictureDr. Tracy A. Pearson, J.D.

Deep in the Heart (Beat) of Texas

Updated: Nov 28, 2021

There were exciting developments today in the fight over SB8, what Texas has termed the "Texas Heartbeat Act".

This bill extinguishes the federal constitutional right to right to seek an abortion after 6 weeks. Unfortunately, the bill was written by (we presume) men who apparently didn't understand that 6 weeks pregnant means two weeks after the woman has missed her period.

The United States Attorney General filed a lawsuit today in the Western District of Texas Austin Division seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The Department of Justice is asking the Court to declare the bill invalid, null, and void and to prevent its enforcement.

The complaint does an excellent job of discussing what the Bill does, its practical effect, and why the U.S. Government can seek this relief. It highlights the supremacy clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which provides when a state law contradicts federal law, the federal law will control. Furthermore, the complaint argues that the statute infringes on interstate commerce, which the U.S. Constitution protects. Interstate commerce is implicated because it forces a woman to seek an abortion out of state. This consequence of the law impacts insurance companies. medical equipment providers, and banks. Moreover, the Complaint argues that the law infringes on a number of departments: the Department of Labor and the operations related to Job Corps, as it will prevent Texas Job Corps contractors from providing services to participants that are guaranteed under federal law, including medical services, such as abortion; the Office of Refugee Resettlement will be impacted because of the need to transport unaccompanied minors seeking abortions out of state; the Bureau of Prisons will be impacted for the same reason; Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will be impacted because they will be prevented from providing medically necessary services because there is no exemption in the bill for those situations; the Office of Personnel Management will be impacted because it negotiates health plan coverage for federal employees and, again there is no exemption for health of the mother; the Department of Defense will be impacted because it, too, provides health coverage for service members, and again there is no exemption for the health of the mother; finally, because the law is attempting to regulate the activities of the federal government, the law is attempting to violate intergovernmental immunity and is invalid.

This complaint is one heck of a thrust into the belly of this unconstitutional law. It is written clearly, concisely, and there is no overreach.

To listen to my podcast, The Devil is in the Details, Season 2, Episode 1, a quick dive into this law, go to my Podcast page. For more information and to review the bill and the federal complaint, go to my Resources page.

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