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President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) is setting up a special task force to handle challenges regarding state abortion laws across the nation, that either regulate or outlaw the act entirely — a direct response to the Supreme Court’s recent Dobbs ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

The new government entity — which was branded the “Reproductive Rights Task Force” on Tuesday  — “formalizes the Department’s Ongoing Work to Protect Reproductive Freedom Under Federal Law,” according to the Justice Department’s website.

There was already an “existing working group and efforts by the Department over the last several months to identify ways to protect access to reproductive health care” in anticipation of the ruling, the DOJ claimed.

The group will be led by Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta and will have reps from the “Department’s Civil Division, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney community, Office of the Solicitor General, Office for Access to Justice, Office of Legal Counsel, Office of Legal Policy, Office of Legislative Affairs, Office of the Associate Attorney General, Office of the Deputy Attorney General and Office of the Attorney General,” along with support staff.

Attorney General Merrick Garland had previously said the High Court’s Dobbs decision was a “devastating blow to reproductive freedom in the United States,” and had been expected to enact some sort of federal countermeasures to Roe being overturned.

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The Task Force will also be responsible for monitoring and evaluating, “all state and local legislation and enforcement actions that threaten” to do the following:

  • 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.

“The Task Force will identify such actions and coordinate appropriate federal government responses, including proactive and defensive legal action where appropriate,” the statement continued. “The Task Force will work with agencies across the federal government to support their work on issues relating to reproductive rights and access to reproductive healthcare.”

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The announcement concluded by suggesting that the most effective way to restore abortion access is by passing it via federal legislation. It also stated any matters concerning legal funding would be handled by the task force directly.

“Recognizing that the best way to protect reproductive freedom is through congressional action, the Task Force will also coordinate providing technical assistance to Congress in connection with federal legislation to codify reproductive rights and ensure access to comprehensive reproductive services,” the statement reads. “It will also coordinate the provision of technical assistance concerning Federal constitutional protections to states seeking to afford legal protection to out-of-state patients and providers who offer legal reproductive healthcare.”

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