Biden administration to convene outside lawyers on abortion rights

The White House and Justice Department on Friday will host their first meeting with outside lawyers to discuss how to protect those who seek abortions from legal repercussions after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.  

Attorney General Merrick Garland, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, White House counsel Stuart Delery and second gentleman Doug Emhoff, who is himself a lawyer, will all participate in Friday afternoon’s meeting with attorneys and members of the abortion rights community, the White House said. The outside participants were not immediately named.  

The group will discuss legal issues surrounding traveling out-of-state for abortions, denial of services, criminalization and reproductive health services, the White House said in announcing the meeting.  

President Biden signed an executive order three weeks ago that ordered his administration to convene meetings with pro bono attorneys, bar associations and public interest organizations to encourage legal representation of patients and abortion providers.

The came after the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the landmark abortion decision last month.  

The group was specifically tasked with discussing how to protect women who travel out of state to receive abortions because of restrictions where they live. Several states are moving to implement restrictions on abortions following the Supreme Court’s ruling. 

The White House has been under pressure to do more to provide access to abortion services.  

Biden’s executive order in early July order also triggered other actions to protect access to contraception, abortion pills and emergency medical care for pregnant women, and advocates regarded it as a positive step.  

Still, the administration has faced calls to declare abortion access a public health emergency and pleas for more information about access to medication abortion.  

Vice President Harris has traveled to several states to meet with local elected officials and stakeholders about abortion access, most recently visiting Indiana as state lawmakers considered an abortion ban proposed by Republicans.