DOJ preparing to challenge anti-abortion law

by | Sep 9, 2021 | Policy, Reproductive Health

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Department of Justice is urgently exploring all options to challenge Senate Bill 8, Texas’ anti-abortion bill that went into effect Sept. 1. And according to reports, the Biden administration is preparing to file a lawsuit against the state as soon as Thursday.

In addition to banning abortion after six weeks, the law also allows private citizens to sue abortion providers for $10,000 if successful in court.

Garland’s statement comes after the United States Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to not block the ban. 

“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,” Garland wrote in a statement. 

According to the DOJ, the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances 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. The FACE Act also prohibits trespassing on clinic properties and vandalizing property. 

Additionally, Garland said the DOJ has included U.S. Attorney’s Offices and Federal Bureau offices in the state to discuss enforcement. 

“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 wrote.

After Garland’s statement on SB 8, in a signed letter, Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee urged AG Merrick Garland to take legal action against “would be vigilantes” who want to file a lawsuit against abortion providers. 

“Two generations of women have come to rely on the right to choose an abortion,” the committee wrote. “That choice is deeply private and should not in any way be intruded upon by any third party, let alone a vigilante seeking a payday from the state.” 

Members of the committee highlighted Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent on the SCOTUS decision and also called SB 8 a clear violation of constitutional rights. 

Texas representatives who signed the letter include Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (El Paso), Sheila Jackson Lee (Houston), and Slyvia Garcia (Houston).

Last week, President Joe Biden also denounced the court’s decision. 

“Rather than use its supreme authority to ensure justice could be fairly sought, the highest Court of our land will allow millions in Texas in need of critical reproductive care to suffer while courts sift through procedural complexities,” Biden said.

Photo: AFP / MANDEL NGAN via Getty Images

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Kennedy is a recent graduate of the University of St.Thomas in Houston where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Celt Independent. Kennedy brings her experience of writing about social justice issues to the Texas Signal where she serves as our Political Reporter. She does everything from covering crime beats, Texas politics, and community activism. Kennedy is a passionate reporter, avid reader, coffee enthusiast, and loves to travel.

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