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VP Harris elevates abortion rights advocacy in reelection campaign

The Biden/Harris campaign is leaning into the vice president's decades of experience on the issue as they seek reelection.
Harris Abortion Florida
Posted at 2:32 PM, May 06, 2024

The Biden/Harris campaign has made access to abortion a core message of their 2024 reelection campaign.

Following former President Trump's Time Magazine interview in which he refused to commit to vetoing a national abortion ban, noting it's unlikely that a piece of legislation would reach his desk if he's elected, the president and vice president are lifting up those comments on and off the campaign trail.

The Biden/Harris campaign launched a seven-figure ad buy last week across sports programming and networks targeting a younger audience.

Trump's interview, the retort by the Biden/Harris campaign and Florida's implementation of their six-week abortion ban coalesced in the same week that marked two years since the Dobbs decision was leaked, forecasting that the Roe v. Wade decision would be overturned.

Vice President Kamala Harris


VP Harris talks with Scripps News about protecting abortion access

Scripps News Staff
10:53 AM, Feb 01, 2024

It was a moment that the administration — specifically the vice president — had been warning about. She has since become the administration's and campaign's foremost voice on the topic of abortion.

"I do believe in a moment in time where so many of our hard-won freedoms are under attack and this is a moment for us to stand and fight," the vice president said in April 2023 at the launch of the Biden/Harris reelection campaign.

"It really is something that matters to her at her core," Rachel Palermo, Harris' former deputy communications director told Scripps News.

"It was a natural fit for the vice president to want to lead on protecting reproductive rights. And the question was never if she was going to do it. It really was how, because this is something that is so near and dear to her," Palermo added. "And she really views this as an issue of protecting fundamental freedoms, and that's how she thinks about it."

As a prosecutor, Palermo notes, Harris had focused on crimes against women and children, which is why she "really takes issue with abortion bans with no exceptions for rape."

Vice President Kamala Harris


In visit to Arizona, VP Harris rebukes Trump on abortion

Haley Bull
2:17 PM, Apr 12, 2024

During Harris' fourth speech on abortion in a month, she showed how personal the issue is for her, telling people in Jacksonville a story about a friend being molested.

"When I was in high school, I learned that my best friend was being molested by her stepfather.  And I said to her, 'Well, you've got to come and live with us.' I called my mother, and my mother said, "'Of course, she does.'  And so, she did," the vice president shared. "So, the idea that someone who survives a crime of violence to their body, a violation of their body would not have the authority to make a decision about what happens to their body next, that's immoral.  That's immoral."

This is not the first time Harris picked up this platform during her political career. As a senator, she went viral for an exchange with Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh, in which she asked him what laws govern a man's body.

It was also a top focus of her unsuccessful 2020 presidential campaign, in which she called out the lack of discussion on the issue during the presidential debates.

"This is the sixth debate we have had in this presidential cycle and not nearly one word with all of these discussions about health care on women's access to reproductive health care, which is under full-on attack today at the White House," she said at the CNN debate in the fall of 2020.

In the White House, even before Roe was overturned, she was highlighting what she saw as a concern over the future of the legal protection for abortion.

The same day the Justice Department sued Texas for its six-week abortion ban, which deputized citizens to report abortion seekers in September 2021, Harris hosted abortion providers and patients.

Earlier this year, she took her advocacy for abortion protections a step further, making a historic visit to a clinic that performs abortions in Minnesota.

President Biden has said he's running to "make Roe v. Wade the law of the land" and has gone further on the issue than his Democratic predecessors; from making the medication mifepristone more available through the mail, to defending the use of the medicated abortion drug before the Supreme Court, as well as advocating for access to abortion around emergency medical care.

But the president, a lifelong Catholic, is not the voice leading the issue. That responsibility has gone to the vice president, who is leaning into her decades-long experience on the topic to speak directly to voters.