The Department of Justice announced the launch of a new task force on Tuesday that will promote abortion across the country and could challenge certain state laws on abortion.
The task force, called the “Reproductive Rights Task Force,” will use resources and manpower from the DOJ to “protect access to reproductive health” since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.
“As Attorney General Garland has said, the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision is a devastating blow to reproductive freedom in the United States,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said. “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.”
Gupta added that the new initiative was part of the department’s commitment to “protecting” abortion.
Part of the task force will be to look at whether various state and local laws are in conflict with federal law. One of the issues the DOJ said it would challenge would be if a state penalizes a woman who leaves a state where abortion is illegal to go get an abortion in a state where it is legal.
The DOJ also said it would challenge states who ban the abortion-inducing drug mifepristone, which the agency claims would constrast with the Food and Drug Administration’s “expert judgement about its safety and efficacy.”
Pro-life advocates say that, aside from the obvious danger to the unborn child, there also could be dangers to the mother from the drug.
“[Even] though mifepristone-induced abortions have been used in the United States for over 20 years, there have still been no randomized trials to systematically investigate the immediate, short-, mid-, and long-term risks. Indeed, what literature has been published has nearly always been funded and conducted by groups and organizations committed to expanding abortion access, often with a history of advocacy for population control,” an article written by several doctors for the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute argued in December.
According to the DOJ, some of the task force’s work will be “proactive” and it will involve working with “reproductive service providers,” which might include Planned Parenthood or a similar organization.
The department also encourages Congress to pass abortion legislation, a move that president Joe Biden has consistently urged for in addition to legislation codifying Roe.
Following the announcement that the Supreme Court had voted to overturn Roe and effectively return abortion legislation to the states, Attorney General Merrick Garland condemed the decision.
“The Supreme Court has eliminated an established right that has been an essential component of women’s liberty for half a century – a right that has safeguarded women’s ability to participate fully and equally in society. And in renouncing this fundamental right, which it had repeatedly recognized and reaffirmed, the Court has upended the doctrine of stare decisis, a key pillar of the rule of law,” he claimed.
Garland was criticized for his statement by some who said that he was challenging the legitimacy of the court through his disagreement.