For Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Washington, DC — Today, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Merrick Garland as attorney general and head of the U.S. Department of Justice. Garland is a long-time public servant and former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Civil rights leaders Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke are expected to join the U.S. Department of Justice as associate attorney general and assistant attorney general for civil rights.
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue released the following statement in response:
“For the past four years, the Trump administration has used the Department of Justice to advance its unpopular anti-choice agenda of power and control, with devastating consequences for our democracy and our freedoms. Now, we have the chance to chart a new course under the Biden-Harris administration. We applaud the Senate’s confirmation of Attorney General Merrick Garland and hope that he will tirelessly fight for our most fundamental rights and freedoms, including reproductive freedom.”
As attorney general, Garland will be responsible for enforcing federal laws, including laws that directly impact reproductive freedom. He can immediately take action by:
- Demonstrating a clear commitment to core constitutional protections, including the legal right to abortion
- Combating and preventing violence and discrimination against reproductive healthcare providers, patients, and staff
- Enforcing federal civil rights and nondiscrimination laws that have a serious impact on the lives and legal rights of women, people with low incomes, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, young people, immigrants, indigenous people, and other marginalized people
- Seeking justice and enforcing federal laws that have a significant impact on reproductive and civil rights, including Title VII, Title IX, the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, and the Affordable Care Act, as well as core constitutional protections and abortion rights.
Trump-appointed Attorneys Generals Jeff Sessions and William Barr were explicit about their hostility towards reproductive freedom and used the Department of Justice to undermine our democracy and our freedoms. Barr said that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be overturned. Barr also expressed skepticism about the right to privacy, and stated that he does not believe it “extends to abortion.” Sessions acted as a rubber-stamp for healthcare discrimination and worked to advance the refusal of care rule.
For over 50 years, NARAL Pro-Choice America and its network of state affiliates and chapters have fought to protect and advance reproductive freedom—including access to abortion, contraception, and paid family leave—for every body. NARAL is powered by its more than 2.5 million members from every state and congressional district in the country, representing the 7 in 10 Americans who believe every person should have the freedom to make the best decision for themselves about if, when, and how to raise a family.