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Pro-choice protesters march outside the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 1 in Austin, Texas. Photo: Sergio Flores for the Washington Post via Getty Images

The Justice Department will “protect those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services” in Texas as it explores options to challenge the state's abortion ban, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement Monday.

Driving the news: The announcement comes after the Supreme Court allowed the law to take effect last week. The ban is the most restrictive abortion law to be enforced since the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion nationwide.

  • The Texas law bans all abortions, including in cases of rape and incest, after the detection of cardiac activity, which is usually around six weeks — before many people know they are pregnant.
  • It also allows individuals to sue anyone suspected of helping a woman obtain an abortion — and awards at least $10,000 to people who do so successfully.
  • The law is difficult to challenge partly because it's unclear who can be sued since it deputizes private citizens to enforce it.

The big picture: Garland said the department "will continue to protect those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services pursuant to our criminal and civil enforcement" of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

  • The FACE Act bans physical obstruction or threat of force that "injures, intimidates, or interferes" with a person seeking or providing reproductive health services. It also prohibits property damage against reproductive health centers.
  • "The department will provide support from federal law enforcement when an abortion clinic or reproductive health center is under attack," Garland said.
  • The department has already contacted U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and FBI field offices in Texas to discuss enforcement authorities, he added.

The bottom line: “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 said.

Go deeper: Biden blasts Supreme Court's "unprecedented assault" on abortion rights

Go deeper

Red states crack down on abortion pills

Expand chart
Data: Guttmacher and Axios research; Map: Jacque Schrag/Axios

As the U.S. Supreme Court signals a potential end to Roe v. Wade, abortion rights activists are heralding abortion pills as a potential option in places where clinics may have to close — but several red states are already cracking down on the pills.

The big picture: Almost half of U.S. states have banned or tightly restricted abortion pills — two medicines named mifepristone and misoprostol — and more could soon follow suit.

Dec 12, 2021 - World

Report: Pandemic pushed over half a billion into extreme poverty

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

More than half a billion people globally were pushed into extreme poverty last year due to health care costs during the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization and the World Bank said Sunday.

Why it matters: The pandemic exasperated global inequities in access to health care, according to the organizations. It also triggered the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, ultimately making health care harder for people to obtain.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Dec 13, 2021 - Economy & Business

The labor shortage is a health problem

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Almost half of unemployed Americans say health issues are the primary reason they're not working, according to new survey data from McKinsey, shared exclusively with Axios.

Why it matters: If one of the key drivers of the labor shortage is Americans' physical and mental health, rather than any lack of economic growth, then that means the Fed is not well placed to get millions more people working.