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President Biden blasts Supreme Court decision on Texas abortion law; GOP calls it 'tremendous victory'

Biden called the controversial new law a 'bizarre scheme that unleashes unconstitutional chaos' and he promised to mobilize the government to fight it.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — President Joe Biden blasted the U.S. Supreme Court for refusing to block Texas’ six-week abortion ban and slammed the Texas Legislature for passing new law.

Biden called it “a bizarre scheme that unleashes unconstitutional chaos and empowers self-anointed enforcers to have devastating impacts.”

 The "Texas Heartbeat Act which became law Wednesday bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually around five weeks and before many women know they are pregnant. Private citizens are empowered to enforce the law by suing anyone who performs an abortion.

“This law is so extreme it does not even allow for exceptions in the case of rape or incest,” he said in a written statement Thursday. “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.”

In a statement, Vice President Kamala Harris said the justices "effectively allowed a bounty law to go into effect in Texas."

"This decision is not the last word on Roe v. Wade, and we will not stand by and allow our nation to go back to the days of back-alley abortions. We will not abide by cash incentives for virtual vigilantes and intimidation for patients," Harris said. "We will use every lever of our Administration to defend the right to safe and legal abortion—and to strengthen that right."

Biden’s statement was a rare presidential rebuke of the judiciary, the Texas Tribune reported. It’s particularly striking because Biden served as the Senate Judiciary Committee chair in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a role in which he embraced deference to the court — to the frustration of liberals.

“For the [Supreme Court] 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,” he added. “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.”

Biden promised to direct executive branch lawyers “to launch a whole-of-government effort to respond to this decision” and “to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions as protected by Roe [v. Wade], and what legal tools we have to insulate women and providers from the impact of Texas’ bizarre scheme of outsourced enforcement to private parties.”

Meanwhile, Republicans in Texas and around the country are celebrating the Supreme Court decision. 

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick called the decision "a tremendous prolife victory!" and said the law protects "the most vulnerable."

In an interview with KHOU 11 News Wednesday, Patrick defended the law saying it's needed to save the lives of unborn babies.

INTERVIEW: Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick on abortion law

“This law is the first of its kind in the United States,” said Lt. Gov. Patrick. “I think it will be a model for the rest of the country.”

Seth Chandler, a law professor at the University of Houston, told KHOU 11 News on Thursday it’s not just Texans that can sue and not just doctors that can be targeted.

“The clinic staff is potentially liable as an abettor,” said Chandler. “Someone who reimburses the woman for the costs involved is potentially liable.”

Chandler also says the person filing the lawsuit doesn’t even have to know the woman getting the abortion.

“The Texas law does not require you to be injured in any fashion, it doesn’t require you to be offended, and indeed, someone who likes abortion, who likes the abortion doctor, could sue them for $10,000 and then give it back,” he said.

Chandler thinks the most likely outcome here is a doctor will perform an abortion after the six-week mark in order to be sued and challenge the law.

“You can face multiple lawsuits, but you only have to pay once,” said Chandler. “Basically, the first person who gets the money, they prevail, and then the fact that you paid that person serves as a defense in any other lawsuits.”

Texas Right to Life set up a whistleblower website where people can anonymously submit names.

On Thursday the CEO and President of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast condemned the new law but said the nonprofit will follow it.

“We will provide compassionate, expert abortion care within the terribly strict confines of S.B. 8, and we will help those we can no longer care for — which we know will be the vast majority of Texans who need us — access abortion out of state,” wrote Melaney A. Linton in an emailed statement.

The case is pending in the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court can still consider the case in the future.

Our news partners at the Texas Tribune contributed to this story.

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