Attorney General Merrick Garland has once more spoken out against the abortion ban covering almost all pregnancies after six weeks that recently went into effect in Texas. Ghoulishly, that Texas law also includes provisions allowing private citizens to sue those who are suspected of involvement in the procurement of an illegal abortion, and should such a lawsuit prove its claim, then the person who brought it is entitled to at least $10,000 — essentially constituting a bounty system targeting those who are assisting pregnant people in exercising their reproductive rights. Now, Garland says that the Justice Department “will continue to protect those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services,” undercutting the Texas law’s free reign.
In particular, Garland referenced the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (or FACE Act), which “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 the Attorney General explains. That law “also prohibits intentional property damage of a facility providing reproductive health services,” as Garland says, adding that the Justice Department “has consistently obtained criminal and civil remedies for violations of the FACE Act since it was signed into law in 1994, and it will continue to do so now.” Since abortions are now broadly banned (in most cases) after some six weeks of pregnancy in Texas, certain right-wing antagonists could no doubt find it within themselves to seek to physically intimidate pregnant people who may be seeking reproductive health services.
As Garland put it, referring to the Texas law:
‘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… 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.’
Read Garland’s full new statement on the matter at this link. Previously, the Attorney General also stated that the Justice Department was “evaluating all options to protect the constitutional rights of women, including access to an abortion.” Others, including President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, have also spoken out to insist that federal action to help protect abortion rights for pregnant people in Texas was on the table.