The Department of Justice announced on July 12 that it has established a task force to "identify ways to protect access" to abortion.
The "Reproductive Rights Task Force" formalizes similar efforts that were already underway by the department and an existing working group leading up to the Supreme Court's overturning of the 1973 Roe v. Wade and 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions on June 24.
Roe v. Wade prohibited states from banning abortions prior to when the fetus is deemed “viable”—at about 24 weeks of pregnancy. Planned Parenthood v. Casey reaffirmed the Roe ruling and prohibited laws that place an “undue burden” on a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion. The rulings had largely enabled abortions up until 24 weeks across the country for up to five decades, overturning state laws.
The task force seeks to monitor any actions that "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 Justice Department is committed to protecting access to reproductive services," Gupta said in a statement.
The task force will also work to provide technical assistance to Congress over federal legislation to "codify reproductive rights and ensure access to comprehensive reproductive services," according to the department. It will also coordinate to provide technical assistance to protect states seeking to shield abortion seekers and providers.