Justice Department Announces Legal Action Against Texas Abortion Ban

The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Texas after the state passed a law prohibiting abortion at approximately six weeks and allowing citizens to enforce the ban, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday.

“Today, after careful assessment of the facts and the law, the Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas,” Garland said. 

The law, which went into effect earlier this month, was signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbot (R) in May. S.B. 8 bans abortion procedures at a stage when many people do not even know they are pregnant. 

At the start of this month, the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court allowed Texas’ law to go into effect. The law also incentivizes citizens to sue anyone “aiding or abetting” people seeking abortions in the state.

The complaint alleges that the Texas law was enacted “in open defiance of the Constitution.”

“The statute prohibits most pre-viability abortions, even in cases of rape, sexual abuse, or incest,” the lawsuit says. “It also prohibits any effort to aid—or, indeed, any intent to aid—the doctors who provide pre-viability abortions or the women who exercise their right to seek one.”

The lawsuit also targets Texas’ incentive program for private citizens to sue those seeking abortions. 

One would not need to “think long or hard to realize the damage that would be done to our society for states to implement laws for any private individual to infringe on another’s constitutionally-protected rights in this way,” Garland said during his press conference.  

In a statement released on Monday, Garland had promised to seek legal avenues to combat the restrictive law, saying his department would rely on the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act to “protect those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services.”

The FACE law, in part, “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,” according to the DOJ.

“The department will provide support from federal law enforcement when an abortion clinic or reproductive health center is under attack,” Garland’s Monday statement added.

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