The Justice Department is starting a “reproductive rights task force” to marshal federal legal resources aimed at preventing overreach from state and local governments seeking to impose new bans on abortion access after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, reports the Washington Post. Justice officials said the move will consolidate work that was under way in the months leading up to the high court’s June decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which struck down federal safeguards for abortion that had stood for five decades. The task force, led by Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, will be charged with monitoring and evaluating state and local legislation and weighing legal action against states that ban abortion medication or attempt to block a pregnant person from traveling out of state for an abortion, among other measures. The effort will include representatives from a wide swath of the Justice Department, including the civil division, U.S. Attorneys’ offices, the civil rights division, the Office of Legal Counsel, the Office of Access to Justice and the Office of the Solicitor General.
“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. “The Justice Department is committed to protecting access to reproductive services.” Some Democratic activists and lawmakers have expressed frustration over the White House’s response to changes in abortion law in recent weeks, urging the Biden administration to push the bounds of what it believes it can do about the Supreme Court’s ruling. In response, President Biden delivered a fiery speech Friday as he signed an executive order asking his administration to pursue an array of measures aimed at bolstering abortion rights.