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Pro-choice protesters march outside the Texas State Capitol on Wednesday, 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

DOJ urges Supreme Court not to overturn Roe v. Wade

Attorney General Merrick Garland during a Sept. 9 news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. Photo: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Department of Justice sought permission Monday to present oral arguments when the Supreme Court hears a case challenging Mississippi's strict abortion law, as it called on justices to uphold Roe v. Wade.

Why it matters: The two briefs, filed by acting Solicitor General Brian Fletcher, mark the latest attempt by President Biden's DOJ to "protect the legal right to an abortion," per the New York Times, which first reported on the court filings.

Sep 21, 2021 - Health

White House endorses bill that would ensure abortion access

Photo: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The White House endorsed a bill Monday that seeks to ensure abortion access.

Why it matters: While the Supreme Court seems to be opening the door to new state laws significantly restricting reproductive health choices, the Biden administration changed its stance on the Women's Health Protection Act, having previously said it would look for other ways to codify Roe v. Wade.

Ipsos poll: Support growing for abortion rights in Latin America

Members of feminist groups in Saltillo, Mexico, after the decriminalization of abortion was approved in Coahuila, Mexico. Photo: Antonio Ojeda/Agencia Press South/Getty Images

Support for abortion rights in some Latin American countries has jumped considerably since 2014, with Argentina seeing the biggest shift, an Ipsos poll finds.

The big picture: The view that abortion should be permitted at least under certain circumstances is held by a majority of adults surveyed in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.