Vice Presidentwarned on Thursday that overturning the federal abortion protections granted by Roe v. Wade would be an assault on the right ‘to live and love without interference from the government.’
Just before Harris spoke, Oklahoma’s state House passed a bill that would ban abortions at conception.
The vice president commented on the ‘outrageous’ nature of the legislation, noting that if passed it would be the strictest law against abortion in the country.
‘Just half an hour ago in Oklahoma, the state legislature passed one of the most extreme abortion bans in the country- a ban that would outlaw abortion from the moment of fertilization,’ Harris told reporters.
‘Think about that for a second: from the moment of fertilization. It’s outrageous, and it’s just the latest in a series of extreme laws around the country.’
Critics of the bill fear that conservative lawmakers’ next step would be banning contraception altogether. Oklahoma’s Republican Governor Kevin Stitt has signaled that he will sign the bill if it gets to his desk.
Her meeting came amid heightened tensions in Washington,and across the country as the weighs overturning the federal abortion protections granted in the landmark decision Roe v. Wade.
Overturning Roe v. Wade would send the issue of abortion rights back to the states – 26 of which are likely to outlaw the medical procedure once possible.
Harris said Thursday that it would be ‘the first time in the last 50 years, at least, that the court has recognized a Constitutional right only to take it away.’
Kamala Harris met with four abortion providers from across the country during a virtual event at the White House on Thursday afternoon
The vice president has been among the most outspoken members of the Biden administration on the issue of abortion rights
Her meeting occurred less than an hour after Oklahoma’s Republican-led legislature passed the country’s most severe abortion ban yet
‘This, when and if it happens, will be a an extreme step backward. And it represents a threat not just to women, but to all Americans. The right to privacy that forms the basis of Roe is the same right to privacy that protects the right to use contraception and the right to marry the person you love,’ the vice president said.
‘Overturning Roe opens the door to restricting those rights. It would be a direct assault on the fundamental right to self-determination, to live and love without interference from the government.
‘At its core, this is about our future as a nation, about whether we live in a country where the government can interfere in personal decision.’
She added that overturning the landmark Supreme Court decision would ‘have real and immediate effects on women around our country.’
In a statement before the meeting, the White House said: ‘The Vice President will hear stories from abortion providers who are working in states with some of the most extreme abortion restrictions, and she will thank them for fighting to protect reproductive health care, despite personal risk.’
The administration said she would ’emphasize that the Administration will continue to defend women’s constitutional rights and protect access to abortion.’
There are 18 states that have near-total bans on their books, while four more have time-limit bans and four others are likely to pass new bans if Roe is overturned
The four abortion providers Harris is meeting with are: California, Oklahoma and Kansas-based physician Dr. Rebecca Taub; Dr. Bhavik Kumar, from Planned Parenthood in Texas; Dr. Colleen McNicholas, the chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, Missouri; and Helen Weems, founder of All Families Healthcare in Montana.
The event is the White House’s latest attempt to show solidarity with pro-choice Americans amid a largely partisan battle over abortion rights.
The Biden-Harris administration has been putting out forceful statements in support of abortion rights, but has few legal avenues to act unilaterally to protect those rights.
An attempt to codify pro-choice legislation died in the Senate when Democrat failed to clinch the necessary 60 votes.
Moderate West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin voted along with Republicans to kill the bill.
Earlier this month, a draft Supreme Court opinion over Mississippi’s case against its last abortion provider ignited a firestorm on both sides of the aisle when it was handed to Politico by an anonymous leaker.
The draft, which was confirmed to be authentic, indicates the high court’s conservative supermajority may be poised to overturn federal abortion rights – something Mississippi prosecutors have asked for, along with lowering the limit for the procedure to 15 weeks rather than the 24-week viability line.
Harris, who attended last week’s vote as a symbolic gesture of support for pro-choice Democrats, condemned the vote in the Senate chamber.
With few legal avenues to act along to protect abortion rights, Democrats have been urging voters to elect more pro-choice candidates
Pro-choice and pro-life protesters have been demonstrating outside the Supreme Court ever since a leaked draft opinion exposed the court’s potential plan to scuttle abortion protections
‘This vote clearly suggests that the Senate is not where the majority of Americans are on this issue,’ the vice president said.
‘A priority for all that care about this issue – the priority – should be to elect pro-choice leaders.’
With few other options to codify abortion rights on a nationwide level, Democrats have primarily focused their messaging on getting voters out to elect more progressive candidates.
After the failed vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urged Americans to ‘elect more pro-choice Democrats if you want to protect a woman’s freedom and right to choose.’
He added: ‘Elect more MAGA Republicans if you want to see a nationwide ban on abortion, if you want to see doctors and women arrested, if you want to see no exceptions for rape or incest.’
Republicans, however, have sought to paint Democrats as extremists seeking unrestricted abortion rights – and expressed outrage over the leaker’s violation of Supreme Court privacy.
One conservative lawmaker, Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, clashed with an abortion provider at a tense hearing on access to the medical procedure on Wednesday.
‘So I would love for you to explain to us, in your medical opinion, at what point in pregnancy should having an abortion no longer be an option?’ the conservative asked.
Dr. Yashica Robinson explained that ‘every pregnancy is unique and different’ and that ‘patients need to have access to care’ on a case-by-case basis.
Johnson cut her off, ‘Let me let me ask you – do you support the right of a woman who’s just seconds away from birthing a healthy child to have an abortion?’
‘I think that the question that you’re asking does not realistically reflect abortion care,’ Robinson answered.
Johnson later insisted that ‘it happens,’ adding: ‘How about if a child is halfway out of the birth canal? Is an abortion permissible then?’
Robinson, visibly stunned, replied: ‘I can’t even fathom that.’
‘I’m not asking you to fathom it, if it occurred, would you support that abortion or not? That’s unrestricted abortion, right?’ the Louisiana Republican questioned.
‘I can’t answer a question that I can’t imagine,’ Robinson insisted.
‘Just like you probably can’t imagine what you would do if your daughter was raped. If it hasn’t happened it may be difficult.’
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