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Biden says Texas abortion law creates a "vigilante system"

Biden calls abortion law "almost un-American"
Biden says Texas' new abortion law seems "almost un-American" 01:38

President Biden on Friday criticized the new Texas abortion law for creating "a sort of vigilante system" because its abortion ban is to be enforced by citizens who can sue anyone who may have aided an abortion. The president said the Justice Department is examining whether it can limit the action of citizens enforcing the state law. 

The Supreme Court earlier this week declined to halt Texas' new law banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, around six weeks, and allowing private citizens to sue people they believe have aided in the process of an abortion that takes place more than six weeks into a woman's pregnancy. Private citizens who successfully sue over violations of the law are to be awarded at least $10,000. Democrats are decrying the 5-4 Supreme Court decision

"I have been and continue to be a strong supporter of Roe v. Wade, number one," the president told reporters Friday when he was asked about his message to women in Texas. "And the most pernicious thing about the Texas law, it sort of creates a vigilante system where people get rewards to go out to — anyway."

The president said the law seems "almost un-American," emphasizing that he isn't referring to people who believe life begins at conception and respects that belief even though he doesn't share it.

Supreme Court declines to block Texas abortion law 02:23

"I was told 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 a federal — a state law," the president continued. "I don't know enough to give you an answer yet, I've asked that to be checked." 

After the Supreme Court allowed the law to take effect, Mr. Biden said he would be launching a "whole-of-government effort to respond to this decision," and tasked the White House's counsel's office and his Gender Policy Council to determine what the federal government can do. 

It's still unclear what the executive branch can do to intervene, though. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she will bring a bill to the floor later this month to try to enshrine a right to an abortion into federal law. While such a bill  may pass in the House, it almost certainly would be blocked in the Senate. 

— CBS News' Melissa Quinn contributed to this report. 

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