Joe Biden Admin Begins Bid to Overturn Texas Abortion Law

A federal judge will consider whether to retain Texas' new abortion law, which is the most restrictive in the U.S., as a legal challenge to Senate Bill 8 (S.B.8) starts on Friday.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman will oversee the Department of Justice's challenge to the law that since September 1 has prohibited most abortions in the Lone Star State.

The lawsuit by the Biden administration aims to strike a blow against the law, which bans abortions from the time of a fetal heartbeat, effectively prohibiting the procedure for women who have been pregnant longer than six weeks.

The Biden administration vowed to act and the DOJ sued Texas on September 9 to try to block the law's enforcement. The hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas that starts Friday will see federal and state attorneys present arguments.

It's the latest in a line of legal challenges to the law. The U.S. Supreme Court last month to allow it to remain in force.

While the Justice Department wants a prompt decision from the court, it is uncertain how long Pitman, an appointee under former President Barack Obama, will take.

It's also uncertain whether the two dozen abortion clinics in the state can resume operations swiftly, the Associated Press reported.

A ruling against the abortion ban wouldn't be the end of the matter as Texas officials would seek to reverse it via the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has previously allowed the restrictions, the AP reported.

The U.S. Supreme Court didn't rule on the constitutionality of Texas' law in its 5-4 vote that allowed it to stay in place.

However, S.B. 8 has skirted this by leaving enforcement to private citizens, not prosecutors. Anyone who "aids or abets" an abortion, which could include healthcare workers, drivers or those who paid for the process, could be liable for fines of up to $10,000.

The Texas law has meant that "abortion care has almost completely stopped," Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi, a Texas abortion provider, told the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee on Thursday, according to the AP.

Legal Experts Divided

Meanwhile, legal experts are divided on whether the Justice Department lawsuit can achieve a permanent reversal of the abortion ban even if Pitman rules in favor of the Department of Justice.

Javier Oliva, a professor at The University of Texas at San Antonio, told The Texas Tribune the law could be proven to put an undue burden on women who cannot get treatment in time, which could block its enforcement until its constitutionality is decided.

However, Josh Blackman, a professor at South Texas College of Law in Houston said the federal lawsuit is unlikely to reverse the abortion ban.

"This law is not killable," he told the publication. "It's like a hydra, you can't kill it— you chop off one head and two heads grow in its place."

Newsweek has contacted Planned Parenthood South Texas and the Department of Justice for comment.

Abortion protesters
Protesters hold up signs as they march down Congress Ave at a protest outside the Texas state capitol on May 29, 2021, in Austin, Texas. The Biden administration is challenging Senate Bill 8. Sergio Flores/Getty