The government of Joe Biden reacted on Monday to legislation passed by Texas that virtually prevents women in that state from exercising their constitutional right to abortion. The country’s Attorney General, Merrick Garland, said the federal government will protect abortion clinics if they come under attack.
Garland said her department is urgently studying all options to challenge Texan law, with the ultimate goal of “protecting the constitutional rights of women and others, including abortion,” according to a statement. To do this, the Democratic Administration has resorted to a 1994 rule (the Freedom of Access to Clinic Admission Act, or FACE) that prohibits any form of violence that curbs the right to abortion.
This law, signed by Democratic President Bill Clinton (1993-2001), prohibits the use of force or its threat to interfere or intimidate people who seek a clinic where abortion is practiced. The Attorney General also informed that contacts with prosecutors and FBI offices located in Texas were initiated. “We will not tolerate any type of violence, physical impediment or material damage against people who seek or offer contraceptive services,” the statement concludes.
After the controversial rule went into effect in Texas last Wednesday, Biden mandated that all available speeches be mobilized to protect abortion rights in the southern state. The president criticized the Republicans’ legislation and called the norm contrary to the US Constitution. The White House also criticized the text’s spirit of persecution, as it limits the role of authorities in surveillance, but, on the other hand, allows “anyone” to prosecute women, doctors or anyone who helps to terminate a pregnancy (receiving for it a prize of 10,000 dollars, or more than 50,000 reais). “Atrociously, it delegates to citizens the responsibility to report those who allegedly helped another person to abort, which could include family members, health professionals, secretaries or clinic staff, and even strangers unrelated to the individual,” the statement said.
“The Texas law will significantly hamper women’s access to health care, particularly in non-white and poor communities,” Biden said last week. In turn, the president of the House of Representatives (deputies), Democrat Nancy Pelosi, pledged to put to a vote later this month a federal bill that would enshrine the right of women to abort. Texas law prohibits abortion from the moment an embryo’s heartbeat is detected, around six weeks’ gestation, when most women don’t even know they’re pregnant. It is the biggest setback to abortion rights in nearly 50 years in the United States.
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