DOJ on Texas Abortion Law

September 7, 2021

The department will provide support from federal law enforcement when an abortion clinic or reproductive health center is under attack.

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Justice Department’s response to a new Texas state abortion law.
  • On September 1, a new abortion law went into effect in Texas. The law bans abortions at first possible detected heartbeat (approximately 6 weeks). While other states have passed similar laws, the enforcement of this law is different. The state doesn’t enforce the law. Instead, the law allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone who helps a woman attain an abortion after this time period. The woman cannot be sued.
  • The attorney general says that while the DOJ (Dept. of Justice) looks for ways to legally challenge the new Texas law, he will use another law (called the “FACE Act”) that “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.”
  • How the DOJ will apply this law in Texas is TBD.
  • Despite legal challenges to the law first passed in May, because of this unique enforcement the Supreme Court did not step in and halt the law from going into effect.
  • This doesn’t mean a legal challenge won’t reach the Supreme Court – it just means the law stands for now.

Why This Matters: Other Republican states that have passed similar abortion laws now look at the new Texas law as a potential model for their states. The laws put the states directly at odds with the current administration.

Statement from Dept. of Justice

EXPLAINER: The language, reach of new Texas abortion law

GOP-led states see Texas law as model to restrict abortions

by Jenna Lee,