Politics

DOJ creates task force to push back on state abortion restrictions


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The Department of Justice announced the creation of a special taskforce on Tuesday designated to push back against state and local crackdowns on abortion. 

DOJ officials say the task force will monitor state and local actions on abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, a 1973 ruling that made abortion legal nationwide. The task force will be led by Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, the No. 2 official within the Justice Department.

“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 Justice Department is committed to protecting access to reproductive services.”

Under Gupta the task force will take legal action against state and local government that infringe on federal protections for abortion or impose criminal or civil penalties on federal employees that help individuals get an abortion. As part of that strategy, the taskforce will also sue states that seek to ban medication used to provoke an abortion. 

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Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during a Tribal Nations Summit during Native American Heritage Month, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Nov. 15, 2021, in Washington.

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during a Tribal Nations Summit during Native American Heritage Month, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Nov. 15, 2021, in Washington.
(WHD Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Gupta said the taskforce had the blessing of Attorney General Merrick Garland, who has increasingly waded into the abortion fight in recent weeks as political pressure on the left mounts. 

“As Attorney General Garland has said, the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision is a devastating blow to reproductive freedom in the United States,” said Gupta.

Neither the White House nor the Justice Department immediately respond to WHD News Digital’s requests for comment.

The task force is one of the Biden administration’s long promised actions on abortion. The White House has faced friendly fire in recent weeks from the left over what many progressives see as an unwillingness to properly fight for abortion access through executive action. 

US President Joe Biden speaks during an event commemorating the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C.

US President Joe Biden speaks during an event commemorating the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C.
(Shawn Thew/EPA via Getty Images)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has pushed the White House to open abortion clinics in red states have effectively banned the practice. Others have called on Biden and the Democratic Congress to push for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which prevents taxpayer money from going to subsidize abortion, and enshrine abortion rights into federal law. 

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Those more ambitious proposals have been blocked, however, by the continued power of the filibuster within the evenly split Senate. The 60-vote threshold has ensured that GOP lawmakers can block such legislation. 

Crowds outside the Supreme Court reacting to the Dobbs ruling.

Crowds outside the Supreme Court reacting to the Dobbs ruling.
(Joshua Comins/WHD News)

As such, Democrats have called for the abolition of the filibuster, but that proposal has failed to garner the necessary support required to succeed. In particular, two Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have opposed efforts to gut the filibuster. 

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The reality has left Biden with few political options. Last week, the president announced a series of executive actions on the topic, including one requiring the federal government to expand access to contraceptives. 

Most of the focus, however, has been on making abortion an election year issue.  

“I don’t think the court, or for that matter, Republicans who have for decades pushed their extreme agenda, have a clue about the power of American women. But they are about to find out,” Biden said last week. 

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