The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday announced the creation of a new reproductive rights task force aimed at protecting abortion access and enforcing federal laws on reproduction rights in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.
In a press release, the DOJ said the new task force will bring together representatives from several offices in the department, including the civil rights division, the Office of the Solicitor General and U.S. attorney’s offices.
DOJ Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, who will chair the new task force, said the DOJ is “committed to protecting access to reproductive services” after the high court’s decision last month that cleared the way for states to restrict or ban abortion access.
“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 in a statement.
The DOJ said the reproductive rights task force will monitor state and local laws that infringe on federal protections for reproductive care, impair a woman’s ability to seek abortion care in states where it is legal, ban federally approved abortion medication or prevent federal employees from accessing abortion care.
The task force is not entirely new but simply “formalizes an existing working group and efforts by the Department over the last several months” to enforce federal laws and protect abortion access, according to the DOJ.
The news comes after President Biden signed an executive order last week that instructs the Department of Health and Human Services to protect and expand access to abortion through medication shipped by mail.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has already said he will enforce the protection of abortion medication, which is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The Biden administration has so far resisted calls to allow abortion access on federal lands and to declare a public health emergency after several states have taken steps to severely restricted access to abortion.
The president’s resistance has angered progressives who are urging Biden to do more after the Supreme Court ruling. For his part, Biden has pushed for Congress to codify the right to abortion.