Saturday, 4 September 2021

Biden calls the Texas abortion law 'un-American': President says he doesn't agree with Catholic teaching that life begins at conception and DOJ will look into 'vigilante system' of reporting women who want terminations

 President Joe Biden once again on Friday ripped a new Texas abortion law that got a green light from the Supreme Court – calling its restrictions 'un-American' and saying the Justice Department was exploring options to undermine it.

Biden spoke at the White House, taking a single question on the hot button abortion topic as he prepared to head to Louisiana to view hurricane damage. 

'The most pernicious thing about the Texas law, it sort of creates a vigilante system where people get rewards to go out and - anyway. And it just seems - I know this sounds ridiculous - almost unamerican what we're talking about,' the president said. 

Biden also said he 'respects' but doesn't agree with people who believe life begins at conception, despite his Catholic faith opposing all forms of abortion. 

'It just seems, I know this sounds ridiculous, almost un-American what we're talking about. Not to debate about, I respect people who think, who don't support Roe v. Wade. I respect their views. I respect those who believe life begins at the moment of conception and all. I respect that, don't agree, but I respect that. Not going to impose that on people,' Biden told reporters.

The Texas law deputizes private citizens to report women who get abortions and anyone who helps them to do so, even uber drivers.  

Biden said he would speak more about the issue later Friday – after Democratic strategists said the abortion fight was appealing political ground after Biden has been hammered over the Afghanistan evacuation and the pandemic.

'There are possibilities within the existing law to have the Justice Department look and see whether there are things that can be done that can limit the independent action of individuals in enforcing in a federal system a state law,' Biden said – sketching out potential administration actions.

The White House has already said the Justice Department and other agencies are looking for what actions they can take to counter the law, which outlaws abortion at the time of a fetal heartbeat, about six weeks after conception. 

Democrats are scrambling to find ways to counter the law, including a new bill in Congress, while Republicans have accused Biden of federal overreach by trying to undermine the Supreme Court decision. 

Furious Senate Democrats are convening a Judiciary Committee hearing on such 'shadow' docket and progressive squad member Rep. Rashida Tlaib introduced a bill to set an 18-year term limit. 

President Joe Biden called the abortion restrictions under new Texas law 'un-American'

President Joe Biden called the abortion restrictions under new Texas law 'un-American'

University of Texas women rally at the Texas Capitol to protest Governor Greg Abbott's signing of the nation's strictest abortion law

University of Texas women rally at the Texas Capitol to protest Governor Greg Abbott's signing of the nation's strictest abortion law

Furious abortion rights groups have said many women at that point do not even know they are pregnant. 

It was not immediately clear if the administration anticipated other agencies taking steps to get women access to abortion services outside the state of Texas.

'The Justice Department is deeply concerned about Texas SB8,' Attorney General Merrick Garland said. 'We are evaluating all options to protect the constitutional rights of women, including access to an abortion.' 

White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said several federal agencies were examining options and noted Congress was also investigating what could be done. 

'The President specifically tasked with 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,' she said in a gaggle Friday in response to a question from

Biden's position on abortion has evolved over the years. A Roman Catholic, he told a Jesuit publication in 2015 that he he believes life begins at conception.

'I'm prepared to accept that at the moment of conception there's human life and being, but I'm not prepared to say that to other God-fearing, non-God-fearing people that have a different view,' he said.

Originally a supporter the Hyde Amendment, which for years has forbidden most federal abortion funding, particularly affecting low-income women in the Medicaid health program, Biden pledged during the 2020 campaign to submit a budget that would oppose it.

The Supreme Court, in a decision shortly before midnight Wednesday, allowed the law to remain in place while it is being litigated. 

'Shadow' docket refers to 'a range of orders and summary decisions that defy [the Court's] normal procedural regularity.'

The Texas law, known as the 'Texas Heartbeat Act', bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is normally after six weeks and before many women even know they are pregnant.

It makes no exceptions for rape or incest and allows Texans to report people, including Uber drivers, who help or take women to get abortions. The only exemption is if there is a danger to the woman's health. 

In a twist, the Texas law bars state officials from actually enforcing it, which is by design to make it difficult to challenge in the courts. 

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