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Justice Department Planning to Sue Texas Over New Abortion Law

— September 9, 2021

Attorney General Merrick Garland is expected to provide more information about the lawsuit later this afternoon.

The federal Department of Justice is expected to file a lawsuit against Texas and its restrictive abortion law.

According to NBC News, the complaint will be filed even after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block the highly controversial statute from taking effect.

Texas’s anti-abortion law, as has reported before, effectively illegalizes abortion as early as six weeks into gestation. While the legislation does not set any hard time-limit, it prohibits abortive procedures after an embryo has registered or should have registered a heartbeat.

However, Texas leaves enforcement largely to its citizenry. Anyone in the United States can report a person suspected of receiving or facilitating an abortion. They may also sue abortion providers for more than $10,000 in statutory damages.

Thus, while Texas has made receiving or facilitating an abortion illegal, it has not set any criminal penalties—instead, it lets private citizens exhaust abortion facilitators’ financial resources in court.

The Biden administration has since blasted the Supreme Court’s inaction.

US Supreme Court building; image by Mark Thomas, via
US Supreme Court building; image by Mark Thomas, via

Earlier this week, President Joe Biden himself condemned the justices’ 6-3 decision, saying it “insults the rule of law.”

Nonetheless, Biden has indicated that his administration will take further action to challenge Texas.

“I was told there are possibilities within the existing law to have the Justice Department look and see whether there are things that can be done that can limit the independent action of individuals enforcing […] a state law,” Biden said. “I don’t know enough to give you an answer yet.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland, meanwhile, has said that the Justice Department is “evaluating all options to protect the constitutional rights of women, including access to an abortion.”

Garland is expected to hold a press conference later this afternoon.

On Monday, Garland said that, in the meanwhile, the federal government will continue to “protect those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services pursuant to our criminal and civil enforcement of the FACT Act, 18 U.S.C. § 248.”

“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,” Garland said in a statement. “It also prohibits intentional property damage of a facility providing reproductive health services. The 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.”

ABC News notes that Texas’s abortion law has triggered widespread outrage across the country.

While the federal government figures its next steps, some private companies-including Uber, Lyft, and even dating-app Bumble-have pledged to support workers and members of the public who continue to seek abortion services.


Biden Justice Department expected to file suit against Texas over restrictive abortion law: Source

Justice Department planning to sue Texas over abortion law

Justice Department to announce lawsuit against Texas over law that bans nearly all abortions

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