DOJ launches Reproductive Rights Task Force to combat abortion restrictions after Roe reversal

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta delivers remarks during an event to mark the first anniversary of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act at the Department of Justice Robert F. Kennedy Building on May 20, 2022 in Washington, D.C.
Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta delivers remarks during an event to mark the first anniversary of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act at the Department of Justice Robert F. Kennedy Building on May 20, 2022 in Washington, D.C. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Justice has announced the creation of the "Reproductive Rights Task Force" to protect access to abortion.

The task force was announced on Tuesday in response to the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the 1973 landmark decision Roe v. Wade, ruling that the U.S. Constitution doesn't contain a right to abortion. The June 24 ruling opened the door for several states to ban abortion in most circumstances.

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta will chair the task force, which will include representatives from other government agencies. The task force will monitor state and local restrictions on abortion.

"As Attorney General [Merrick] Garland has said, the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision is a devastating blow to reproductive freedom in the United States," said Gupta in a statement. 

"The Court abandoned 50 years of precedent and took away the constitutional right to abortion, preventing women all over the country from being able to make critical decisions about our bodies, our health, and our futures."

The task force is charged with monitoring state and local legislation and enforcement actions that might "[i]nfringe on federal legal protections relating to the provision or pursuit of reproductive care" or "[i]mpose criminal or civil liability on federal employees who provide reproductive health services in a manner authorized by federal law." The task force will also monitor states that ban abortion pills or impair "women's ability to seek reproductive care in states where it is legal."

The task force will coordinate meetings with pro-bono attorneys, work with Congress to craft legislation meant to codify abortion access and provide online legal resources.

The DOJ task force was announced days after President Joe Biden signed an executive order to "protect and expand access to abortion."

Biden's executive order called on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to report within 30 days outlining strategies to "protect and expand access to abortion care, including medication abortion."

This will include "launching a public awareness initiative," sharing information with providers on abortion access and meeting with "private pro bono attorneys, bar associations, and public interest organizations in order to encourage lawyers to represent and assist patients, providers, and third parties lawfully seeking these services throughout the country."

In a statement, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser denounced Biden's executive order.

"Long gone is the Democratic Party of 'safe, legal, and rare.' President Biden has once again caved to the extreme abortion lobby, determined to put the full weight of the federal government behind promoting abortion," stated Dannenfelser.

"Democrats will stop at nothing to promote their agenda of abortion on demand, up until the moment of birth, paid for by the taxpayers — including dangerous mail-order abortion drugs — even if it means gutting the long-standing filibuster, increasing the size of the Supreme Court, or putting abortionists in tents in national parks."

In the opinion of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority that the Constitution makes no reference to abortion.

"Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division," the majority opinion states. 

The decision triggered several state laws banning abortion in nearly all circumstances and calls by Democratic elected officials to pass federal legislation legalizing abortion nationwide.

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