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Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday framed the Supreme Court’s expected ruling to overturn Roe vs. Wade as a government incursion on personal liberties, saying that if conservative justices follow through with the decision, other rights could be threatened.
The leaked draft opinion on Roe, published earlier this month by Politico, indicated that a majority of the high court is prepared to overturn the landmark 1973 ruling, in which the court found that the Constitution protects the right to privacy and access to abortion.
Harris said she was worried that such a ruling could eventually imperil gay marriage and access to contraceptives.
Overturning the ruling “would be a direct assault on the fundamental rights to self-determination: to live and love without interference from the government,” Harris said, adding that the decision “is about our future as a nation. About whether we live in a country where the government can interfere in personal decisions.”
Harris said that if the Supreme Court determines that access to abortion is no longer guaranteed, it will be the first time in at least five decades that Americans have a right taken away.
“The strength of our country has always been that we fight to move forward — that we believe in expansion of rights, not the restriction of rights,” she said in a virtual meeting with doctors who practice reproductive healthcare in Oklahoma, Texas, California, Kansas and Missouri. “So this, when and it if it happens, will be an extreme step backward.”
The prospect of Roe being overturned has incensed many on the left, and it has the potential to turn abortion into a major issue in the midterm elections, which have been dominated by concerns over inflation and gas prices.
Harris’ remarks Thursday indicate that she is emerging as a leading Democratic voice on the issue. Earlier this month, she lit into Republicans, accusing them of “trying to weaponize the use of the law against women.”
After the Senate, under Republican control in 2020, cemented a 6-3 conservative bloc on the high court with the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a slew of states moved to pass laws banning most abortions. Some have gone so far as to ban abortion for victims of rape and incest, and to criminalize those who seek or carry out the procedure. Many Republicans and antiabortion advocates say such laws are necessary to protect innocent lives.
Harris on Thursday denounced the “impact of these laws that are designed to punish and control women.”
“The power a woman has to make decisions about her own body, I believe is directly connected to her power to make decisions about her future,” she said.
Harris presided over the Senate last week when it failed to vote to move forward a bill that would codify the right to an abortion.
A similar bill passed the Democratic-controlled House in a 218-211 vote in September. Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas was the only Democrat to cross the aisle and vote against it. No Republicans supported the measure.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.