The Slatest

Justice Department Vows to Protect Women Who Seek Abortions in Texas

Attorney General Merrick Garland announces a federal investigation of the City of Phoenix and the Phoenix Police Department during a news conference at the Department of Justice on August 05, 2021 in Washington, D.C.
Attorney General Merrick Garland announces a federal investigation of the City of Phoenix and the Phoenix Police Department during a news conference at the Department of Justice on August 05, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The Justice Department said it would protect women who seek abortions in Texas as it continues to seek ways to challenge the state law that bans most abortions. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that DOJ would use a federal law known as the Freedom of Access to Clinical Entrances Act, or FACE Act, to “protect those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services.”

The Texas law, which bans abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy with no exceptions for rape or incest, allows anyone to file a lawsuit against a person who helps someone obtain an abortion. “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,” Garland said.

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Garland said the Justice Department “will not tolerate violence against those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services, physical obstruction or property damage in violation” of the federal law that protects those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services. He also said federal prosecutors are “urgently” exploring ways to challenge the Texas law.

Despite the promises from the Justice Department, access to abortion services is already limited in Texas. Since the law went into effect, providers have been forced to cancel procedures and deny care while some clinics have stopped providing abortion services as a whole.

Abortion rights activists are warning that the threats to reproductive freedom across the country after the Texas law was allowed to stand extends beyond abortion. “It’s important to realize that the attacks on abortion are not the endgame for the anti-choice movement,” said Kristin Ford, the acting vice president of communications and research for NARAL Pro-Choice America. “It is not the sole focus for their efforts or their vision for what the future of this country looks like.” Bills that seek to define life at the moment of fertilization could affect access to contraceptives and in-vitro fertilization procedures, activists warn.

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