EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland vowed challenges to Texas’ recently enacted bill that implements a near-total abortion ban in the state.
Garland issued a statement on Monday in response to Texas Senate Bill 8, which took effect last week.
“While the Justice Department urgently explores all options to challenge Texas SB8 in order to protect the constitutional rights of women and other persons, including access to an abortion, 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, 18 U.S.C. § 248,” says Garland in a statement.
SB8 permits people to sue physicians and anyone else suspected of assisting a woman with an abortion, including Uber and Lyft drivers.
Over the weekend, Lyft issued a statement in support of its drivers and stated that the company would cover 100 percent of drivers’ legal fees if they are sued for driving a woman to receive an abortion.
The DOJ says federal policies supersede the state’s authorization for citizens to interfere in women’s reproductive health.
“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. 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,” says Garland.
Garland added that the DOJ is prepared to provide support to abortion clinics and reproductive health centers under attack using federal law enforcement.
The DOJ has coordinated with the U.S. Attorneys Offices and FBI field offices in Texas and across the country 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.”