Harris on Roe anniversary: ‘No one is immune’ to impacts of Supreme Court decision

Vice President Harris on Sunday warned that the right of every woman across the United States to make her own reproductive decisions is on the line in the wake of the Supreme Court decision that struck down Roe v. Wade.

Harris, during a speech to mark 50 years since the Roe v. Wade court ruling that allowed for abortion access across the country, said that while several states have already closed clinics and restricted abortion access, no Americans are immune to such measures.

“To everyone listening, be sure, no one is immune from these impacts,” she said in remarks from Tallahassee, Fla. “Even in states that protect reproductive rights like New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon, even then, people live in fear of what might be next because Republicans in Congress are now calling for a nationwide abortion ban. Some even from the moment of conception.”

“The right of every woman, in every state in this country, to make decisions about her own body are on the line. I said it before and I’ll say it again. How dare they?” she added.

Harris highlighted the impacts so far of the Supreme Court ruling this summer that struck down the precedent set by Roe and kicked the issue back to the states. It also accelerated calls from some conservative lawmakers for federal legislation establishing a minimum standard for abortions.

“It has meant that a 10-year-old child in Ohio who was sexually assaulted and became pregnant had to leave her home — had to leave her home state — and travel to another to receive care. It has meant that the doctor who treated her faced death threats and efforts to take away her medical license,” Harris said.

The vice president was referring to an Indiana doctor, Caitlin Bernard, who has been criticized by conservatives and public officials for treating her patient, a 10-year-old Ohio girl who was raped and became pregnant.

Harris also referred to a woman in Texas who, in the midst of a miscarriage, was denied treatment three times over three days because of the state’s abortion ban. Harris said that the woman, Amanda, and her husband were at the speech in Florida on Sunday.

“America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. But let us ask, can we truly be free if a woman cannot make decisions about her own body? Can we truly be free if a doctor cannot care for her patients? Can we truly be free if families cannot make intimate decisions about the course of their own lives?” Harris asked the crowd. “And can we truly be free if so-called leaders claim to be quote — I quote — on the vanguard of freedom while they dare to restrict the rights of the American people and attack the very foundations of freedom.”

The vice president has taken a leading role in the Biden administration in pushing back on the high court’s decision. Her speech Sunday marked the main way the White House opted to mark the 50-year anniversary of the original ruling.

Harris, the first woman to serve as vice president, has met with health care providers, state and local legislators, and activists over the seven months — especially in the lead-up to the midterm elections — to voice support for abortion access and reproductive health.

She spoke about the midterm elections, when Democrats experienced better-than-expected results due in part to their messaging around the extreme laws in some states that have gone into effect in the wake of Roe being overturned.

“Understand, clearly, the majority of Americans oppose these attacks. Americans of every background in every community have voiced their perspective. From Kansas to California, Michigan, Montana, Kentucky and Vermont. They spoke with their vote,” Harris said.

“In essence they said, one does not have to abandon their faith or their deeply held beliefs to agree that the government should not be telling people what to do with their own bodies,” she added.

She also said that Florida is one of 22 states that have announced they will deny women medication to have an abortion prescribed by their doctor. Additionally, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) last year signed into law a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

“Imagine? So today, we are fighting back,” she said.

Harris announced the Biden administration had issued a presidential memorandum aimed to further protect access to mifepristone, which is a Food and Drug Administration-approved drug used in medication abortion.

The memorandum will direct the secretary of Health and Human Services, along with the attorney general and the secretary of Homeland Security, to consider new guidance to support patients, providers and pharmacies that want to access, prescribe or provide mifepristone legally.

Also in her remarks in Florida, Harris reiterated calls for Congress to pass legislation to protect reproductive rights.

Since Roe was overturned, the White House and Democrats have pushed for Congress to codify the protections of Roe. But with control of Congress split, any federal legislation is unlikely to pass during this Congress.

Meanwhile, House Republicans, in one of their first votes as a majority, passed two abortion-related bills: one condemning attacks on anti-abortion facilities, including crisis pregnancy centers, and one to impose penalties if a doctor refused to care for an infant born alive after an attempted abortion.

President Biden shared a statement on Twitter on Sunday expressing his commitment to reproductive health care.

“I believe Roe got it right. I commit to the American people that I’ll never back down in our fight to safeguard access to health care, including the right to choose,” he said.

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