Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a statement Monday on the new near-total abortion ban in Texas saying violence against people seeking reproductive care or clinics offering care will not be tolerated.
“The department will provide support from federal law enforcement when an abortion clinic or reproductive health center is under attack,” the statement read. “We will not tolerate violence against those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services, physical obstruction or property damage in violation of the FACE Act.”
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The Texas law bans physicians from providing abortions “if the physician detects a fetal heartbeat,” which would include embryonic cardiac activity that can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
This law is different from past abortion legislation in that it allows private citizens to bring civil suits against people who aid or abet an abortion. Although it was allowed to go into effect, the law is being legally challenged.
The Washington Post/Sergio Flores for The Washington Post via Getty ImagesPro-choice protesters march outside the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 1, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Texas passed SB8 which effectively bans nearly all abortions.
Many people who are pregnant don’t know they’re pregnant by week six. Most abortions performed in the U.S. occur after the six-week mark, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Department of Justice is still in the process of evaluating how it can challenge the law, Garland’s statement said, and the attorney general has pledged his support of reproductive health care.
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“While the Justice Department urgently explores all options to challenge Texas SB8 in order to protect the constitutional rights of women and other persons, including access to an abortion, we will continue to protect those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services pursuant to our criminal and civil enforcement of the FACE Act,” the statement read.
Andrew Harnik/AP, FILEAttorney General Merrick Garland speaks at a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2021.
The FACE Act, invoked by Garland in the statement, “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.”
It also bans property damage to facilities providing reproductive health services.
The department has been in touch with U.S. Attorney’s Offices and FBI field offices in Texas to ensure the enforcement of these protections, Garland said.
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