The Biden administration has asked a judge to stop the enforcement of an abortion law in Texas.
The law, which took effect on September 1st, is one of the most stringent in the country.
It outlaws abortion as early as six weeks of gestation and allows anyone to sue those involved in the procedure.
The US Justice Department has filed an emergency motion to prevent the law from being enforced while it pursues legal action.
The motion, filed on Tuesday, formally requests that the ban be lifted while the Justice Department challenges the law.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court declined to block SB8, also known as the Texas Heartbeat Act.
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against granting a stay. The court did not respond to abortion providers’ emergency appeal.
President Joe Biden called the Supreme Court decision a “unprecedented assault” on women’s rights.
SB8 prohibits abortions after the detection of what anti-abortion activists refer to as a foetal heartbeat – usually at six weeks, when many women are unaware they are pregnant.
The term is misleading, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and what is being detected at such an early stage of pregnancy is a portion of foetal tissue “that will become the heart as the embryo develops.”
Individuals may also sue anyone who provides or facilitates access to an abortion after the six-week mark under the law. It forbids women who undergo the procedure from suing.
Those who successfully sue under the law will be awarded at least $10,000 (£7,200), plus any legal fees.
Critics, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, have claimed that this places the burden of enforcing it on individuals rather than local or state officials, and that it could give rise to abortion “bounty hunters.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, has defended the law, saying his state will “always defend the right to life.”
Other US states, including Florida, have expressed interest in enacting similar legislation.