Biden asks Justice Department to stop people from acting as ‘vigilantes’ in Texas abortion law

President says new restrictions and mandate for whistleblowers are ‘almost un-American’

Eric Garcia
Washington DC
Friday 03 September 2021 20:34 BST
Biden to limit individuals from acting as vigilantes under the Texas abortion law
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President Joe Biden asked for the Justice Department to limit people from acting as “vigilantes” because of Texas’s abortion law that came into effect this week.

The president answered a question from a reporter about the law after making remarks about the state of the economy before heading to Louisiana.

Mr Biden said he had been and continued to be “a strong supporter of Roe v Wade”, the Supreme Court decision that protects a right to an abortion. He also denounced the creation of a “vigilante system” created by the Texas law that would allow anyone in the United States to sue someone who “aids and abets” an abortion and would reward them with $10,000 and additional legal fees if successful.

“And it just seems, I know this sounds ridiculous, almost un-American,” Mr Biden said. The president said it was different from people who oppose the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision.

The US Supreme Court decided against granting an emergency request to block the law, which would ban abortion as soon as foetal heart tones can be detected, which is usually six weeks into pregnancy and before most people know they are pregnant.

The president said he was not certain but that he was told there were possibilities within the existing law to have the Justice Department see what can be done to “limit the independent action of individuals enforcing” the law.

“I don’t know enough to give you an answer yet,” he said. “I have asked it to be checked.”

Mr Biden denounced the law, particularly the ability to sue, earlier this week.

“And, outrageously, it deputises private citizens to bring lawsuits against anyone who they believe has helped another person get an abortion, which might even include family members, healthcare workers, front-desk staff at a health care clinic, or strangers with no connection to the individual,” he said.

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