As the nation reels from the imposition of a draconian anti-abortion law in Texas, Attorney General Merrick Garland has joined those speaking out. The law was allowed to go into effect by the U.S. Supreme Court, which opted to allow such a development with five justices in favor of the move and four, including Chief Justice John Roberts, against it. The newly in force legislation bans abortions after six weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest, and it includes an allowance for private citizens to sue those who are suspected of having “aided or abetted” someone getting an illegal abortion. If such a lawsuit is successful, then the person who brought it is entitled to a $10,000 reward.
Garland says that the Justice Department is “evaluating all options” at its disposal in the struggle to protect access to abortions for women in Texas. He commented as follows, referring to the anti-abortion bill in question:
‘The Justice Department is deeply concerned about Texas SB8. We are evaluating all options to protect the constitutional rights of women, including access to an abortion.’
US Attorney General Merrick Garland:
“The Justice Department is deeply concerned about Texas SB8. We are evaluating all options to protect the constitutional rights of women, including access to an abortion.” pic.twitter.com/rnFriD0w7c
— Emily Zantow (@EmilyZantowNews) September 2, 2021
President Joe Biden himself has issued a similar statement. Responding to the Supreme Court’s choice, he said he was “directing” the Gender Policy Council and the White House Counsel’s Office “to launch a whole-of-government effort to respond to this decision, looking specifically to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice to see what steps the Federal Government can take to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions as protected by Roe.” Referring to the provisions allowing for lawsuits from private citizens against those suspected of being involved in illegal abortions, Biden also said that he was directing an examination by authorities of “what legal tools we have to insulate women and providers from the impact of Texas’ bizarre scheme of outsourced enforcement to private parties.”
The next steps on this issue aren’t immediately clear, although legal challenges will no doubt continue. The Biden administration has undertaken other actions against Republicans in positions of state-level authority who’ve essentially abused their power. For instance, the Education Department recently announced civil rights investigations into states where GOP leaders have sought to ban mask mandates in schools. The guiding idea behind these federal investigations is that these anti-mandate policies could constitute discrimination against children who, under current circumstances, can only safely attend school with a mask mandate in place.