Attorney General Merrick Garland said that the Department of Justice would protect those women seeking abortions in Texas after the state passed a restrictive abortion law.
In a statement issued on Monday, Sept. 6, regarding Texas’s bill SB8, Garland said his department is urgently exploring “all options to challenge Texas SB8 in order to protect the constitutional rights of women and other persons, including access to an abortion.”
Garland also said the department would continue to protect those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services under the criminal and civil enforcement of the FACE Act.
The attorney general explained that the FACE Act, signed into law in 1994, 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 as well as prohibits intentional property damage of a facility providing reproductive health services.
Garland’s remarks come after Texas’s new abortion law went into effect on Sept. 1, prohibiting almost all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The bill SB8 was signed into law by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in May.
In its ruling last Wednesday, U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4, refusing to block Texas’s abortion law.
Abortion-provider plaintiffs failed to reach the necessary threshold for the Supreme Court to issue an injunction, which suspends a statute before it takes effect.
But in his statement, Garland vowed that the Justice Department would provide support from federal law enforcement when an abortion clinic or reproductive health center is under attack.
“We have reached out to U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and FBI field offices in Texas and across the country to discuss our enforcement authorities,” he said.
“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,” he said in the statement.