Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden| Photo: Oliver Contreras/Agência EFE/Gazeta do Povo

The US Department of Justice is considering enforcing a 1994 federal law protecting free access to abortion clinics in response to a new Texas law that virtually prohibits termination of pregnancy in the US state. On Monday (6), the US Attorney General, Merrick Garland, said in a statement that the department urgently evaluates all options to respond to state law in order to “protect the constitutional rights of women and others, including abortion”. The president, Joe Biden, had already defended that position when the state law took effect.

According to Garland, the US government will defend people who want to “use or offer” the service by enforcing the so-called Freedom of Access to Clinics Act (signed by then-President Bill Clinton in 1994). The policy prohibits the use of threat or force to interfere or intimidate people who come to abortion clinics.

The US Attorney General explained that the Department of Justice will offer support in federal law enforcement when a clinic specializing in the procedure is under attack and that it will contact the Texas Attorney General’s and FBI’s offices to secure action. “We will not tolerate violence against those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services, nor will we tolerate physical obstruction or damage to property in violation of federal law,” Garland warned.

In effect since last Wednesday (1), Texan law prohibits abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, when it is possible to detect the fetal heartbeat. The policy does not provide for exceptions in cases of incest or rape and allows anyone to file a lawsuit against anyone who helps a woman to have an abortion.