By Evan Perez and Tierney Sneed, CNN
The Biden Justice Department sued the state of Texas on Thursday over its new six-week abortion ban.
DOJ has been exploring legal avenues for challenging the six-week abortion ban in Texas after the US Supreme Court last week declined a request by clinics to block the law from going into effect.
The Texas law was designed specifically with the goal of making it more difficult for clinics to obtain federal court orders blocking enforcement of the law. Instead of creating criminal penalties for abortions conducted after a fetal heartbeat is detected, the Texas Legislature has tasked private citizens with enforcing the law by bringing private litigation against clinics — and anyone else who assists a woman in obtaining an abortion after six weeks.
Since the law went into effect, clinics across Texas have stopped offering abortions after six weeks, or have shuttered altogether.
In an unsigned opinion, the Supreme Court majority wrote that while the clinics had raised “serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law,” they had not met a burden that would allow the court to block it at this time due to “complex” and “novel” procedural questions.
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday had pledged to protect abortion clinics in Texas by enforcing a federal law that prohibits making threats against patients seeking reproductive health services and obstructing clinic entrances.
“The department will provide support from federal law enforcement when an abortion clinic or reproductive health center is under attack,” Garland said. “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.”
This story has been updated with Garland’s announcement and additional details.
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CNN’s Shawna Mizelle and Christina Carrega contributed to this report.
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