Washington AG joins coalition in lawsuit against ‘wrong, unlawful’ Texas abortion ban

Sep 15, 2021, 2:24 PM | Updated: 2:26 pm
Bob Ferguson, Texas abortion ban lawsuit...
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson joined a coalition on Wednesday, filing a brief in support of a lawsuit against a recently-enacted Texas law banning most abortions.

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The law prohibits abortions after roughly six weeks of pregnancy. While attempts to pass similar bans in other states have been struck down in court, the Texas ordinance allows private citizens to act as enforcers through civil lawsuits, rather than pursuing criminal prosecutions. In essence, it allows any person to sue a woman they suspect received an abortion, and entitles that person to $10,000 in damages if their allegations prove true.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit of its own last week against the state, asking a 5th Circuit Court judge in Austin, Texas to halt the bill’s implementation, and declare it unconstitutional. On Wednesday, Ferguson joined a group of 24 attorneys general from Massachusetts, California, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, and more in filing a “friends of the court” brief in support of the DOJ’s lawsuit.

“Supreme Court precedent is clear — access to an abortion is a constitutional right,” Ferguson said in a written release. “Texas is denying access to this reproductive health care for virtually everyone in their state. This is both wrong and unlawful. We will stand up for the Constitution.”

In Wednesday’s amicus brief, the coalition of attorneys general labeled the Texas ban “a new and dangerous frontier in the quest by some state legislatures to restrict or eliminate abortion access in violation of well-established law.”

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“Such an unprecedented attack on our constitutional order and the rule of law must be unequivocally rejected,” it continues, citing the precedent of landmark Supreme Court cases like Roe v. Wade, which have upheld abortion rights for decades.

The evening before the Texas law went into effect, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to deny an emergency appeal from abortion providers seeking to halt its implementation. That said, justices stopped short of ruling on whether the bill was constitutional, with the court expected to issue a more decisive ruling in a separate case later this year, involving a Mississippi abortion ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

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Washington AG joins coalition in lawsuit against ‘wrong, unlawful’ Texas abortion ban