Vice President Kamala Harris is on tour. Last week, on what would have been the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Harris launched her “Fight for Reproductive Freedoms” tour, which will see the vice president visit states nationwide that are “experiencing chaos and confusion” after the overturning of Roe to “highlight the harm caused by extreme abortion bans.”
The first stop was in Wisconsin, a swing state, where for 15 months following the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, abortion was virtually inaccessible, thanks to an 1849 state law (yes, before women could vote or own property) that was interpreted as banning abortions except when done to save the pregnant person’s life. After more than a year, a court ruling eventually determined that the 19th century law applied only to feticides, not abortions performed with consent, and Planned Parenthood resumed providing abortions at three of its clinics.
That was the backdrop for the vice president’s forceful speech wherein she called out “extremists [who] want to roll back the clock to a time before women were treated as full citizens.” She also called out Wisconsin’s Republican-held Assembly, which three days later voted in favor of a 14-week abortion ban, and the United States Congress, where she said “extremists are trying to pass a national abortion ban to outlaw abortion in every single state.”
On stage, Harris also told the story of a local couple named Meagan and Jon, who learned the fetus Meagan was carrying had a severe genetic disorder, and Meagan’s pregnancy threatened her life. Because doctors in the state feared going to prison, Meagan had to seek abortion care in Minnesota. “She had to leave the state where she calls home to save her life,” Harris said.
After calling for the crowd to applaud Meagan and Jon, the VP emphasized how the couple are representative of the many impacted by draconian abortion bans. “An untold number of women are silently suffering—women who are being subjected to profound judgment; women who are being made to feel as though they did something wrong, as though they should be embarrassed, being made to feel as though they are alone,” Harris said. “And to those women, I say: We see you, and we are listening, and we see your incredible strength. And we are here with you.”
The full list of tour stops has not yet been released, but as evidenced by the second stop, on Monday in San Jose, California, the vice president will also visit states that have worked to protect abortion access to highlight how it can be accomplished.
The vice president’s tour is part of a wider effort by the Biden administration and campaign to make restoring the protections of Roe the centerpiece of the party’s message to voters this fall. The campaign’s first official rally of the year, held the day after Harris kicked off her tour, also focused on reproductive rights, with the president laying the blame for ending Roe at Trump’s feet. “The person most responsible for taking away this freedom is Donald Trump,” Biden said to the crowd in Manassas, Virginia. “He’s betting we won’t hold him responsible. He’s betting you’re going to stop caring. But guess what? I’m betting he’s wrong. I’m betting you won’t forget.”
And if voters are forgetful, the vice president will likely be coming to a town nearby to remind them soon. Her tour continues through the end of March.
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