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The U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday a lawsuit against Texas to block a controversial law that went into effect last Sept. 1 in this state and bans virtually all abortions, with no exceptions for cases of incest or rape.
"The Texas act is clearly unconstitutional under longstanding Supreme Court precedent," U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland told a news conference.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Austin, Texas, asks to block the law and "protect the rights that Texas has violated."
The new law, already signed by Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott, prohibits abortion as early as six weeks gestation, when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, although in many cases, many women do not even know they are pregnant.
In addition, it allows individuals to file civil lawsuits against anyone who helps a pregnant woman to have an abortion if they believe they are violating the ban and offers damages of up to $10,000 to the plaintiff if they win their case.
Garland remarked that the federal government has an "obligation to ensure that no state can deprive people of their constitutional rights."
Last week, hours after the Texas law went into effect, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to block the legislation with a strengthened conservative majority. However, it stopped short of assessing whether or not it was constitutional.
Abortion was recognized as a constitutional right in the U.S. in 1973 thanks to the Supreme Court's ruling in the "Roe v. Wade" case, which recognized that a woman may terminate her pregnancy during the first six months of gestation.