Statement by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on the Supreme Court’s decision in Women’s Health Organization Dobbs v. Jackson | OPA

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland today issued the following statement following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, State Health Officer of the Mississippi Department of Health, et al. v. Jackson’s Health Organization et al.:

“Today the Supreme Court was overthrown Roe v. Wade AND Planned Parenthood v. Casey and stated that the right to abortion is no longer protected by the Constitution.

“The Supreme Court has eliminated an established right that has been an essential component of women’s freedom for half a century – a right that has protected women’s ability to participate fully and equally in society. And giving up this fundamental right, which it had recognized and reaffirmed repeatedly, the Court has changed the doctrine of Decideda key pillar of the rule of law.

“The Department of Justice strongly disagrees with the Court’s decision. This decision deals a devastating blow to reproductive freedom in the United States. It will have an immediate and irreversible impact on the lives of people across the country. And it will be grossly disproportionate in its effect — with the greatest burden felt by people of color and those with limited financial means.

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“But today’s decision does not eliminate the ability of states to keep abortion legal within their borders. And the Constitution continues to limit states’ authority to ban reproductive services provided outside their borders.

“We recognize that travel to receive reproductive care may not be feasible in many circumstances. But under constitutional principles, women who live in states that have banned access to comprehensive reproductive care should remain free to seek that care in states where it is legal. Furthermore, under basic First Amendment principles, individuals must remain free to inform and counsel each other about reproductive care that is available in other states.

“Lawyers with different views on this matter have the right and will express their opinions. The peaceful expression of a view is protected by the First Amendment. But we must be clear that violence and threats of violence are not. The Department of Justice will not tolerate such acts.

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“The Department of Justice will work tirelessly to protect and advance reproductive freedom.

“Under the Freedom of Access to Clinics Act, the Department will continue to protect health care providers and individuals seeking reproductive health services in states where these services remain legal. This law prohibits anyone from obstructing access to reproductive health services through violence, threats of violence, or damage to property.

“The Department strongly supports Congress’ efforts to codify the reproductive rights of Americans, which it retains the authority to do. We also support other legislative efforts to ensure access to comprehensive reproductive services.

“And we stand ready to work with other arms of the federal government seeking to use their statutory authorities to protect and preserve access to reproductive care. In particular, the FDA has approved the use of the drug Mifepristone. States cannot ban Mifepristone based on disagreement with the FDA’s expert judgment about its safety and efficacy.

“Furthermore, federal agencies may continue to provide reproductive health services to the extent authorized by federal law. And federal employees who perform their duties by providing such services should be allowed to do so without the threat of liability. It has been the Department’s longstanding position that states generally cannot impose criminal or civil liability on federal employees who perform their duties in a manner authorized by federal law. Additionally, the Department’s Office of Legal Counsel has determined that federal employees who engage in such conduct will not violate the Assimilation Crimes Act and cannot be prosecuted by the federal government under that law. The Department of Justice is prepared to assist agencies in resolving any questions about the scope of their authority to provide reproductive care.

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“The ability to decide one’s own future is a fundamental American value, and few decisions are more meaningful and personal than choosing whether and when to have children.

“Few rights are more fundamental to individual freedom than the right to control one’s own body.

“The Department of Justice will use every tool at our disposal to protect reproductive freedom. And we will not waver from this Department’s founding responsibility to protect the civil rights of all Americans.”

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