In response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned Roe v. Wade and returned the abortion question democratically back to the states and their citizens, the Biden administration has initiated several efforts to thwart the laws of pro-life states.
First, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced a new task force designed to monitor state laws and sue states whose laws are deemed to violate federal protections involving abortion.
Second, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) intends to announce it will transfer pregnant women who illegally entered this country to states where they can obtain an abortion, if the state where they are currently being detained does not allow abortions.
You read that right. Our current government is facilitating abortion for non-citizens with your tax dollars.
Finally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is warning hospitals covered under federal law that they must provide abortions in certain cases, such as to preserve the life or health of the mother in medical emergencies.
Here’s what the individual initiatives look like.
The DOJ’s new abortion watchdogs have been given the euphemistic moniker of “Reproductive Rights Task Force.” According to the DOJ’s description of the task force, the group’s purpose will be to “monitor and evaluate all state and local legislation and enforcement” that threatens to:
- 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.
Don’t you love how pro-abortion bureaucrats can talk in entire paragraphs about abortion without ever using that word? The one-page DOJ announcement of the task force uses “reproductive” 19 times and “abortion” only once. Abortion is the precise opposite of reproduction.
You’d almost suspect them of hiding something.
The task force will also “identify such actions and coordinate appropriate federal government responses, including proactive and defensive legal action where appropriate,” which is a verbose way of saying the federal government will sue states it thinks are going too far to protect preborn babies.
DOJ also promises to provide “technical assistance to Congress in connection with federal legislation to codify reproductive rights and ensure access to comprehensive reproductive services.” Currently, however, there are not enough votes in the Senate to meet the 60-vote threshold necessary to move such legislation forward – known as the Senate “cloture” or “filibuster” rule – nor does there appear to be even a majority of 51 votes willing to invoke the “nuclear option” to revise the filibuster rule.
Another initiative the administration will be announcing, according to The Wall Street Journal, comes from ICE in the form of an undated memo from ICE’s acting Director Tae Johnson, a copy of which made its way into the hands of the WSJ. In the memo Johnson tells Corey Price, the head of the agency’s enforcement division, the following:
“This memorandum serves as a reminder of existing ICE policies and standards requiring that pregnant individuals detained in ICE immigration custody have access to full reproductive health care,” the memo states. “This is also a reminder that, pursuant to existing ICE policy, it may be necessary to transfer a detained pregnant individual within an area of responsibility (AOR) or to another AOR, when appropriate and practicable, in order to ensure such access.”
In other words, taxpayers will be funding the transportation of non-citizen, pregnant women held in states that prohibit abortion to states where they can obtain one.
These two latest federal actions designed to promote abortion come on the heels of a third federal response to Dobbs. On Monday, July 11, HHS issued a “guidance letter” to all health providers covered by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA).
EMTALA requires hospitals to treat “emergency medical conditions” of people who show up on their doorsteps, and the guidance letter warns hospitals that they will have to provide abortions if such emergency medical conditions warrant it, which HHS says cover the “life and health” of the mother. The letter further declares that EMTALA preempts state laws that don’t cover those exceptions.
All pro-life states with abortion bans recognize a “life of the mother” exception. That’s a no-brainer. EMTALA’s definition of “emergency medical condition” is probably not going to cause any heartburn among pro-life states either, as its limited application shouldn’t provide an excuse for a typical abortionist to open up shop:
“An emergency medical condition is defined as ‘a condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected to result in placing the individual’s health [or the health of an unborn child] in serious jeopardy, serious impairment to bodily functions, or serious dysfunction of bodily organs.’”
It’s apparent from all these federal actions that the pro-abortion administration in Washington, D.C., is doing everything it can to frustrate the rights of pro-life states, in the wake of Roe v. Wade’s demise, to protect preborn life.
The good news, however, is that these federal bureaucrats have little real authority to do much to thwart pro-life states and their laws. They do seem intent, however, on perhaps causing annoyance, filing meaningless lawsuits, and delaying pro-life efforts as much as possible, with only marginal impact on state pro-life efforts.
What Dobbs is slowly teaching us is that even the immense power of the federal government has its constitutional limits that must respect state sovereignty in matters not delegated to Congress under the enumerated powers listed in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution.
There will undoubtedly be future legal and political battles over abortion as our post-Roe nation sorts the issue out, but a nation in which its citizens are free to decide those questions for themselves is the one our Founders envisioned.
And we have the Supreme Court – finally, if not belatedly – to thank for that.
Photo from Shutterstock.