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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Pro-choice protesters march outside the Texas state capitol on Sept. 1, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Photo: Sergio Flores for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Democratic lawmakers are calling on the Department of Justice to take legal action "up to and including the criminal prosecution" against anti-abortion rights activists who attempt legal challenges under Texas' new abortion ban.

Why it matters: The state's new law bars abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and awards at least $10,000 to people who successfully sue anyone suspected of helping a pregnant person obtain an abortion.

What they're saying: In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday, 24 Democrats including House Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler called the legal challenge provision the law's "most insidious feature."

  • "In Texas, women may now be reluctant to confide the fact of a complicated pregnancy in once-trusted neighbors, coworkers, and family members, any of whom might simply want a payday under SB 8," they wrote.
  • "This perverse system has not only a chilling effect on a deeply private decision-making process that is essential to a woman’s personal autonomy, but is also just plain chilling."
  • "Two generations of women have come to rely on the right to choose an abortion," they add.
"That choice is deeply private and should not in any way be intruded upon by any third party, let alone a vigilante seeking a payday from the state. We urge you to act to protect the right to choose without delay."

The big picture: The DOJ said Monday it will "protect those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services" in Texas as it explores options to challenge the abortion ban, but has not released a clear strategy on countering the new law.

  • President Biden has directed the DOJ and Department of Health and Human Services to find ways to ensure people in Texas can safely seek abortions.

Go deeper

Appeals court denies DOJ's request to suspend Texas abortion ban

People protesting Texas' abortion ban outside of the Texas State Capitol in Austin on Oct. 2. Photo: Montinique Monroe/Getty Images

A three-judge panel for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday denied the Department of Justice's emergency request to suspend Texas' abortion ban, which bars the procedure after a fetal heartbeat is detected, or roughly six weeks — before many people know they are pregnant.

Why it matters: The ruling allows the ban to continue to be enforced as the courts consider the law's constitutionality. It's one of the most restrictive bans to be enforced since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.

Oct 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Merrick Garland faces first testimony before House Judiciary Committee

Photo: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland will testify before the House Judiciary Committee next Thursday, according to a notice of the oversight hearing obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: This will be the first time Garland has appeared before the panel. The hearing comes as the Justice Department faces a series of contentious issues, including enforcement of the Jan. 6 committee's subpoenas, the crackdown on Texas' new abortion law, the overflowing of migrants at the border, voting rights and more.

The new cold war panic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The world has seen a power struggle between nuclear powers before, and has seen those countries inch closer to military conflict. But it's never before seen a cold war between two countries as interconnected — with each other and with the rest of the globe — as the U.S. and China.

Why it matters: Escalating antagonism between the world's two superpowers is likely to hinder global cooperation to fight climate change, divert resources to costly arms and tech races, complicate diplomacy for U.S. allies, and victimize Chinese and American citizens living in each other's countries.

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