US attorney general Merrick Garland announced on Monday that the federal government will take action to protect those in Texas trying to obtain an abortion in the wake of the strictest anti-abortion law in the US taking effect last week.

The US justice department said that it will not tolerate violence against anyone seeking abortion services in the state and that federal officials are exploring all options to challenge the ban on almost all terminations, with new state law also empowering the public to enforce the law in a way critics decry as promoting vigilantism.

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