President of the United States Joe Biden has condemned a new Texas law that prohibits abortions from as early as six weeks of pregnancy and promised to protect women’s constitutional rights.
According to him, the “extreme” law “blatantly” breached rights and would “significantly impair” women’s access to healthcare.
The Texas Supreme Court has declined to overturn the new law.
The law prohibits abortions after the discovery of a fetal heartbeat, a stage at which many women are unaware they are pregnant, according to anti-abortion activists.
The Heartbeat Act also allows to sue physicians who conduct abortions after the six-week point.
The law, which is one of the most restrictive in the country and took effect after the conservative-leaning Supreme Court refused to respond to an emergency appeal by abortion clinics, has been severely criticized by doctors and women’s rights organizations.
The Democratic president, in his statement, said his administration would “protect and defend” the constitutional rights established under Roe v Wade and “upheld as a precedent for nearly half a century”.
He was referring to a 1973 Supreme Court decision that said that a woman in the United States has the right to an abortion until the fetus is viable, or capable of surviving outside the womb. This typically happens between weeks 22 and 24 of pregnancy.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters that the president had long wanted to see the “codification” of Roe v Wade – which would mean Congress voting to make the precedent federal law – “and [the Texas law] highlights even further the need to move forward on that effort”.
Other Democrats voiced their displeasure as well. The Supreme Court had “delivered catastrophe to women in Texas,” according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, while New York Mayor Bill de Blasio claimed it was a “direct assault on the rights of women” throughout the country that would need a “national mobilization” to resist.
Rights organizations including Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who had asked the Supreme Court to block the legislation, have stated that they will not give up the battle.