Justice Department Vows to Protect Abortion Seekers in Texas

President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice pledged Monday to protect abortion seekers in Texas in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision not to block state law prohibiting abortion after six weeks.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that his agency will “protect those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services” under a federal law referred to as the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

“The department will provide support from federal law enforcement when an abortion clinic or reproductive health center is under attack,” he added. “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 also affirmed that DOJ prosecutors are working around the clock to find ways to take on the Texas the law, saying his agency will “protect the constitutional rights of women and other persons, including access to an abortion.”

Protesters march down Congress Ave at a protest outside the Texas state capitol on May 29, 2021, in Austin, Texas. (Sergio Flores/Getty Images)

Garland’s remarks come after White House chief of staff Ron Klain said the Biden administration would use “legal remedies to protect women who are seeking to exercise their constitutional rights” of receiving an abortion in Texas.

He told CNN on Sunday:

We have the best lawyers at the Justice Department looking for legal remedies to protect women who are seeking to exercise their constitutional rights. We have the team at HHS looking at what means we can do to try to get women the healthcare services they need in the face of this Texas law, and we have the gender policy counsel here at the White House, the first time a president’s ever had a policy counsel devoted to gender issues coordinating all this work to bring options forward for the president and the vice president.

On Saturday, a judge has temporarily barred some Texas abortion facilities from facing legal action by the state’s largest anti-abortion organization.

Justice Department Vows to Protect Abortion Seekers in Texas

Then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden congratulates Judge Merrick Garland after he was nominated by U.S. President Barack Obama to the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House, March 16, 2016, in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The temporary restraining order was issued Friday by District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble in Austin in response to a Planned Parenthood request. Although the law remains in effect, the judge’s order shields Planned Parenthood’s clinics, specifically, from whistleblower lawsuits by the nonprofit group Texas Right to Life, its legislative director, and people working in concert with the group.

A hearing on a preliminary injunction request is scheduled for September 13. The temporary restraining order only shields Planned Parenthood clinics from Texas Right to Life lawsuits and doesn’t prevent Texas Right to Life from suing non-Planned Parenthood abortion clinics in the state. It also doesn’t prevent people who aren’t affiliated with Texas Right to Life from suing Planned Parenthood.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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