Vice President Kamala Harris claimed Thursday that if the Supreme Court grants states the opportunity to decide how to handle the procedure then it “opens the door” to “restricting” other rights like gay marriage and the use of contraception.
Harris’ remarks ahead of a virtual meeting with abortion providers came in anticipation of a Supreme Court ruling that could potentially overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark 1973 decision which granted some federal protections for abortion.
“We gather today to talk about Roe v. Wade — a decision that has protected a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body,” Harris said, speaking at the event before members of the press left the area. “For nearly half a century this decision has been in existence.”
Earlier this month, a leaked draft opinion that was penned in February by Justice Samuel Alito signaled that the federal protections for abortion granted under Roe v. Wade could soon be overturned, giving states the right to make the decision on how to handle the procedure — and whether to permit it — within their borders.
“We learned that the United States Supreme Court is poised to strike down Roe,” Harris said. “If they do, it will be the first time in the last 50 years, at least, that the Court has recognized a constitutional right only to take it away.”
“So this, when and if it happens, will be an extreme step backward, and it represents a threat not just to women, but to all Americans,” Harris added, claiming that the right to privacy basis for the Roe ruling is the same basis that “protects the right to use contraception and the right to marry the person you love, including a person of the same sex.”
“Overturning Roe opens the door to restricting those rights,” she said. “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 decisions. This is about our future.”
Continuing, Harris, who said at the event that she has spent her “entire career” fighting for the safety and well-being of women, said the “decision will have real and immediate effects on women around our country.”
“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.
Participants for Thursday evening’s event with Harris included Dr. Rebecca Taub, an OB/GYN practicing in California, Oklahoma, and Kansas; Dr. Bhavik Kumar, an OB/GYN with Planned Parenthood practicing in Texas; Dr. Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of St. Louis, Missouri; and Helen Weems, a registered nurse and founding director of All Families Healthcare in Montana.
Harris, a longtime advocate of abortion protections, previously met with abortion providers in September 2021 to discuss the impact of Texas’ S.B. 8. As California attorney general, she signed onto multiple amici briefs to defend abortion access.
The vice president reacted strongly when Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed that Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion in the Dobbs case striking down Roe was genuine. Although the draft dates back to February, and it does not represent the current or final opinion of the Court, Harris declared that “the rights of all Americans are at risk.”
“Roe ensures a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion,” Harris said. “It also, at its root, protects the fundamental right to privacy. What is clear is that opponents of Roe want to punish women and take away their rights to make decisions about their own bodies. Republican legislators in states across the country are weaponizing the use of the law against women.”
The vice president argued that “if the right to privacy is weakened, every person could face a future in which the government can potentially interfere in the personal decisions you make about your life. This is the time to fight for women and for our country with everything we have.”
In Dec. 2021, Harris predicted that “women will die” if Roe is overturned.