The Biden Justice Department on Tuesday announced a new “Reproductive Rights Task Force” that will monitor the actions of state governments and utilize all available means to preserve abortion access nationwide.
The task force, which was launched in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, was first conceived after the May leak indicating the court’s intention to reverse Roe nearly two months before the official ruling.
In the press release announcing the task force, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, who will head the group, called the Dobbs ruling a “devastating blow to reproductive freedom” and said the Justice Department is “committed to protecting access to reproductive services.”
“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 said.
According to the DOJ press release, the Reproductive Rights Task Force will work to monitor state and local governments and coordinate federal action when necessary. Situations “appropriate” for such federal action include states trying to ban federally-approved abortion medication and trying to stop individuals from seeking abortions in states where the practice is legal.
Tuesday’s announcement came just days after President Biden signed an executive order similarly aimed at protecting access to abortion across the country. The order directs the Department of Health and Human Services to expand access to emergency contraception and takes steps to protect patients’ private medical data.
While the executive order was Biden’s most significant action on abortion yet, the president has repeatedly received calls from progressives to take more drastic action to protect abortion. In an announcement Friday, the White House claimed it was doing all it could on the issue.
“President Biden has made clear that the only way to secure a woman’s right to choose is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe as federal law,” the White House said in a statement. “Until then, he has committed to doing everything in his power to defend reproductive rights and protect access to safe and legal abortion.”