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US Department of Justice plans to sue Texas over restrictive abortion law

US Department of Justice plans to sue Texas over restrictive abortion law
The DOJ vowed to ‘protect’ women’s rights, and is expected to follow through on that promise by suing Texas over its new abortion laws

The Department of Justice is planning to sue Texas over its “draconian” new abortion laws, which ban women from terminating a pregnancy after six weeks.

Attorney General Merrick Garland is expected to file the lawsuit as soon as Thursday, after saying earlier this week that the DOJ was “urgently” exploring all options.

He was due to appear at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, which stated the department would “pursue an argument that the Texas law illegally interferes with federal interests.”

The Independent has approached the Justice Department for comment.

The controversial Texas statute bans doctors from providing abortions after a foetal heartbeat is detected or as soon as six weeks into a pregnancy, often before women even know they are pregnant.

Under the “vigilante” legislation, private citizens are promised $10,000 bounties to file lawsuits against anyone accused of aiding or abetting the practice of an abortion after six weeks, other than the patient themselves.

Ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft have promised to pay the legal fees of any driver who is sued under the law.

The law has prompted a furious backlash from a broad coalition of women’s rights groups, prominent Democrats, businesses headquartered in the Lone Star state and United Nations human rights experts.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott provoked further outrage this week when he was asked why he was forcing a victim of rape or incest to carry their child to term.

“It doesn’t require that at all, because obviously it provides at least six weeks for a person to be able to get an abortion,” he replied.

Speaking with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said the comments were “disgusting”.

“I don’t know if he is familiar with a menstruating person’s body,” Ms Ocasio-Cortez said.

“In fact, I do know that he’s not familiar with a woman – with a female or menstruating person’s body, because if he did, he would know that you don’t have six weeks.”

The governors of several other states including Florida and South Dakota have said they are looking to pass similar legislation.

On Monday, Mr Garland said the Justice Department was exploring options to protect the “constitutional rights of women and other persons, including access to an abortion.”

In a press release, he explained that the Face Act, or Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, prohibits the use or threat of force and physical obstruction that injures or interferes with a person who is seeking to obtain or provide reproductive services.

Signed into law in 1994, the act also prohibits damage to a facility providing reproductive health services.

“The department has consistently obtained criminal and civil remedies for violations of the Face Act since it was signed into law in 1994, and it will continue to do so now,” the DOJ said.

Last week, the Supreme Court rejected a request by abortion providers in Texas to block the law from taking effect.

The nine-member court stacked with Conservative appointees ruled 5-4 in the case, over the strenuous objections of the three liberal justices.