Texas Abortion Ban: Justice Department Vows to Protect Those Seeking Abortions, Explore Ways to Challenge Law

Merrick Garland profile shotMerrick Garland profile shot
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Merrick Garland made a statement alongside President Biden, supporting an individual's choice and denouncing the newly passed bill in Texas that severely limits bodily autonomy and places Roe v. Wade in danger.

The Justice Department on Monday vowed to "continue to protect" those in Texas seeking an abortion in the wake of the new abortion ban in Texas, which prohibits abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

"[W]e will continue to protect those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services pursuant to our criminal and civil enforcement of the FACE Act," Attorney General Merrick Garland said, CBS News reported.

The FACE Act, or Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, is a 1994 law that "prohibits the use or threat of force and physical obstruction that injures, intimidates, or interferes with a person seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services." The law also protects abortion centers from harm or damage.

Abortion clinics and reproductive health centers "under attack" would receive federal law enforcement support as well, Garland said. 

Garland's statement comes as the Justice Department works to determine if there is a way to challenge the new abortion ban days after the Supreme Court failed to block the restrictive law, which prohibits anyone from receiving an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, without any exceptions for rape or incest.

In addition to banning an individual from receiving an abortion after six weeks — which is right around or before many realize that they are pregnant — the law can also incriminate anyone who is said to be “aiding and abetting,” including healthcare providers. It allows private citizens to legally challenge those individuals in court. The law is among the most restrictive in the U.S. 

Pro-choice activists and the current administration agree that the ban effectively eliminates the guarantee in Roe v. Wade around a person’s right to end their pregnancies before viability. President Joe Biden said that the law is “almost un-American” and would create a “vigilante system” due to citizens being able to file suit against others.

Republican officials in at least seven other states have suggested similar potential changes to their states’ laws, and several more bills are expected to show up, according to the Washington Post.

Garland’s statement was clear in that the department would do what they could “...to protect the constitutional rights of women and other persons, including access to an abortion.”

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