The Justice Department on Tuesday set up a task force to “monitor and evaluate” state and local measures that “threaten to infringe on” federal abortion protections.
The Reproductive Rights Task Force was formed in response to the Supreme Court’s decision overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta called a “devastating blow to reproductive freedom.”
“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,” said Ms. Gupta, who chairs the task force. “The Justice Department is committed to protecting access to reproductive services.”
Officials said the task force formalizes efforts the Justice Department has undertaken to identify measures to protect access to “reproductive health care” following the May leak of a draft decision that basically became the court’s ruling when released.
The task force will specifically monitor and “coordinate appropriate federal responses” to state and local enforcement actions that impair women’s ability to seek abortions and related medical care.
It also will monitor efforts that limit the abortion-inducing medication Mifepristone, impair the ability to provide counsel about reproductive care, or impose civil or criminal liability on federal employees who provide or facilitate abortion or related services.
Last week President Biden issued an executive order aimed at protecting abortion and contraception access in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Under the executive order, the Department of Health and Human Services will take steps to ensure women can access an abortion medication that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The order also directs HHS to expand access to a “full range of reproductive health services,” including emergency contraception and other birth-control methods, including intrauterine devices.
The move marked Mr. Biden‘s strongest action yet to ensure abortion access amid intense criticism from Democrats and progressives that he hasn’t done enough to work around the Supreme Court ruling.