Less than a week after Texas’ heartbeat bill became law, banning most abortions in the state after six weeks gestation, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Monday that the federal government was exploring “all options” to challenge it and “protect the constitutional rights of women and other persons.”
“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, 18 U.S.C. § 248,” Garland said in a statement released by the Justice Department.
“The FACE Act 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 prohibits intentional property damage of a facility providing reproductive health services,” Garland continued, noting that the Justice Department had consistently enforced the FACE Act since it became law in 1994 and would “continue to do so now.”
“The department will 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. 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,” Garland ended.
In addition to banning most abortions after six weeks, the new law also allows individuals to take civil action against anyone who “performs and induces an abortion” or “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion, including paying for or reimbursing the costs of abortion through insurance or otherwise.”
Last Friday, District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble in Austin, Texas, temporarily shielded Planned Parenthood abortion clinics in the state from being sued under the new law in response to a request from the abortion giant, The Associated Press reported.
Guerra’s order specifically shields Planned Parenthood’s clinics from whistleblower lawsuits by the nonprofit group Texas Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group.