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Justice Department creates abortion rights task force

Jul 13, 2022

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The Justice Department is creating a Reproductive Rights Task Force in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision to overturn Roe v. WadeThe group will be led by Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta and include members from the Civil Rights Division, Office of Legal Counsel and Legislative Affairs office.

The task force’s objectives include monitoring state’s actions that could: 

  1. infringe upon a woman’s ability to cross state lines to get an abortion, 
  2. prevent people from counseling a woman about abortion services available in other states, and
  3. ban mifepristone, an FDA-approved abortion medication.

The White House announced it will encourage pro-bono attorneys, bar associations and other private organizations to provide legal representation to patients and providers seeking abortion and other health services. The task force will also assist attorneys by centralizing legal briefs and other information about relevant laws online.

“The task force will continue working across government and with stakeholders, reproductive rights organizations, patients, providers, law firms and others, to explore every legal option to protect and provide comprehensive reproductive health services,” Gupta said. “While we recognize that congressional action is the best answer, we will not be deterred from using every tool at our disposal to defend reproductive freedom.”

To assist with legislative efforts, the task force will provide “technical assistance” to Congress with the ultimate goal of passing legislation to codify abortion rights at the federal level. The Democrats tried to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act through Congress and did so successfully through the House. The bill has not received a vote in the Senate.

A very similar bill, the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022, failed in the Senate with a 49-51 vote. Multiple Democrats and Republicans, including Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin, D- WV, said they would vote in favor of a bill codifying Roe v. Wade, but that this bill went too far beyond that. 

Sen. Collins stated the abortion bill brought forward for a vote in the Senate was designed to fail. 

“I support codifying the abortion rights established by Roe v. Wade and affirmed by Planned Parenthood v. Casey. That’s not what the Women’s Health Protection Act would do,” Sen. Collins stated in May when the bill was being considered. “The WHPA explicitly invalidates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in connection with abortion and supersedes other longstanding, bipartisan conscience laws, including provisions in the Affordable Care Act, that protect health care providers who choose not to offer abortion services for moral or religious reasons.”

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The Justice Department is creating a Reproductive Rights Task Force in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

The objectives include monitoring state’s actions that could: 

  1. infringe upon a woman’s ability to cross state lines to get an abortion, 
  2. prevent people from counseling a woman about abortion services available in other states, and
  3. Ban mifespristone, an FDA approved abortion medication. 

The White House says it will also encourage pro-bono attorneys, bar associations and other private organizations to provide legal representation to abortion patients and providers. 

Vanita Gupta, ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY GENERAL  says: “While we recognize that congressional action is the best answer, we will not be deterred from using every tool at our disposal to defend reproductive freedom.” 

The White House also says the taskforce will assist attorneys by centralizing online information –  including legal briefs. Straight from DC, I’m Ray Bogan.