On Friday, White House Counsel Stuart Delery and Attorney General Merrick Garland, joined by Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff and Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, convened the first meeting of private law firms, business associations lawyers, law professors and public interest organizations to encourage strong legal services. representation of patients, providers and third parties seeking or legally offering reproductive health services nationwide. The summons is part of President Biden’s July 8, 2022 Executive Order protecting access to reproductive health care services.
The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned nearly 50 years of constitutional protection of the right to abortion, has already had devastating consequences. Since Dobbs, several states have made abortion illegal or strictly regulated. And access to reproductive health services is now at risk for millions of Americans. Patients seeking reproductive care, as well as the providers who care for them, face an uncertain legal landscape.
Friday’s event connected the pro bono legal community with the reproductive rights, health and justice community, which has been leading the fight for decades. Attorney General Garland, White House Counsel Delery, and Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta opened the event with remarks highlighting the administration’s deep commitment to protecting reproductive rights and highlighted the unique role of attorneys in times of crisis.
Attorney General Garland stressed that the Justice Department is “working tirelessly to protect access to reproductive services” in recognition of “the crisis this is.” He reaffirmed that the Justice Department “will consider all the tools available to us to assert these protections.”
Associate Attorney General Gupta, who leads the Justice Department’s Reproductive Rights Task Force, stressed the need for action. “It will take all of us – government lawyers, volunteer private lawyers, bar associations, public interest organizations – to do everything we can to protect access to reproductive health care and ensure strong legal representation for patients, providers and third parties. in need .”
White House lawyer Delery also stressed the importance of the legal community in the face of the Dobbs decision. He noted, like when lawyers came together in 1963 during the civil rights movement, again “the collective talent and training of lawyers across the country can help turn the tide.”
The Second Gentleman closed the events by calling on lawyers to join the fight to defend reproductive rights and achieve justice for women.