Justice Department Announces Task Force to Ensure Access to Abortion

Justice Department Announces Task Force to Ensure Access to Abortion
The Department of Justice building in Washington on Feb. 9, 2022. (Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

The Department of Justice announced Tuesday it has established a task force to “identify ways to protect access” to abortion.

The “Reproductive Rights Task Force” formalizes similar efforts that were already underway by the department and an existing working group leading up to the Supreme Court’s overturning of the 1973 Roe v. Wade and 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions on June 24.

Roe v. Wade prohibited states from banning abortions prior to when the fetus is deemed “viable”—deemed at around 24 weeks of pregnancy. Planned Parenthood v. Casey reaffirmed the Roe ruling and prohibited laws that place an “undue burden” on a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion. The rulings had largely enabled abortions up until 24 weeks across the country for up to five decades, overturning state laws.

In a release, the Justice Department said that the task force will “monitor and evaluate all state and local legislation and enforcement actions” on abortion and “coordinate appropriate federal government responses, including proactive and defensive legal action where appropriate.”

The task force seeks to monitor any actions that “infringe on federal legal protections relating to the provision or pursuit of reproductive care; impair women’s ability to seek reproductive care in states where it is legal; impair individuals’ ability to inform and counsel each other about the reproductive care that is available in other states; ban Mifepristone based on disagreement with the FDA’s expert judgment about its safety and efficacy; or impose criminal or civil liability on federal employees who provide reproductive health services in a manner authorized by federal law.”

vanita gupta
Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta talks with guests in the East Room of the White House in Washington, on July 22, 2021. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta will chair the task force. Gupta said that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe and Casey is “a devastating blow to reproductive freedom” in the country.

“The Justice Department is committed to protecting access to reproductive services,” she said in a statement.

The department said it is working with external stakeholders including abortion providers and advocates, as well as state attorneys general. It will also centralize online legal resources to help attorneys in their work to protect access to abortion. Such resources include filed Justice Department legal briefs and information about the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

The task force will also work to provide technical assistance to Congress over federal legislation to “codify reproductive rights and ensure access to comprehensive reproductive services,” the department said. It will also coordinate to provide technical assistance to protect states seeking to shield abortion seekers and providers.

From The Epoch Times

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