At the Jan. 20 inauguration in D.C., Kamala Harris will be the first female and first Black woman to ever hold the office of vice president. The California senator, who was running in the Democratic presidential race (opens in new tab) before dropping out in December and being tapped by Biden as his VP, has long been vocal about many key issues (opens in new tab), including abortion and women's reproductive health care.
Abortion (opens in new tab) has been a hot-button issue in this country for what feels like forever, and everyone has opinions on it—but you might be wondering where Harris stands on the subject. Let's dive in, shall we?
Harris wants to codify Roe v. Wade.
If you're familiar with women's reproductive rights, then you'll be familiar with Roe v. Wade. The 1973 Supreme Court case made it illegal for states to ban abortions, but ever since then, the ruling has been threatened continuously.
It is still possible for state legislation to limit or restrict access to the medical procedure, which is why some politicians want to codify (opens in new tab) the ruling. Codifying the ruling would grant a woman's right to an abortion would be a federal law and protected from being overturned if it reached the Supreme Court.
In 2019, The New York Times (opens in new tab) asked democratic presidential candidates to complete a survey on where they stood on certain abortion issues. Harris and Biden said yes to codifying Roe.
In August, Harris publicly supported Joe Biden's plans to codify the case. "As states across our nation continue to attack reproductive rights, especially abortion, it's more important than ever we have a president who will defend and expand these rights," she tweeted. "As president, @JoeBiden will codify Roe v. Wade and protect the constitutional right to choose."
Harris wants to repeal the Hyde Amendment.
Along with numerous other Democrats, Harris has pushed to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which blocks federal Medicaid funding for abortion services unless the person's continued pregnancy will put their life in danger or the baby is the product of rape or incest.
During a July 2019 debate, Harris challenged Biden (opens in new tab) on his record on the Hyde Amendment. The presidential nominee, known for backing the amendment, suddenly changed his mind in June.
"You made a decision for years to withhold resources to poor women to reproductive health care, including women who were the victims of rape and incest," said Harris to Biden. "Do you now say that you have evolved, and you regret that?"
The decades-old ban affects people with low incomes, people of color, young people, immigrants, and anyone else who relies on Medicaid for healthcare coverage. To put it into perspective, Medicaid provides coverage to 1 in 5 women (opens in new tab) between the ages of 15-44.
(You can go to allaboveall.org (opens in new tab) to learn how you can take action, btw.)
Major pro-choice organizations are backing Harris.
While in the U.S. Senate, Harris maintained a 100 percent rating (opens in new tab) from the reproductive rights group NARAL. According to NARAL's website (opens in new tab), they highly rate "candidates who make women's health care, including abortion access, a priority."
Harris has also received support from Emily's List (opens in new tab), an organization dedicated to getting pro-choice women elected to office. Its president, Stephanie Schriock, even made a statement (opens in new tab) when Harris' ended her campaign for president, saying:
"Kamala Harris is a fighter for the people, and she carried that grit throughout her presidential campaign. Her historic presence in the race—as one of the few women of color to run for president in history—brought a critical perspective and voice to conversations about America's future."
And when Biden and Harris won the election, Planned Parenthood wrote (opens in new tab) on its website: "Planned Parenthood has champions in the White House again." It added: "Our country’s leaders once again understand that abortion is health care."
Harris co-sponsored the Women's Health Protection Act.
Harris has continued to be vocal about the Women's Health Protection Act (opens in new tab), which is similar to the Voting Rights Act but geared towards abortion access. If the Act passed, states would have to get pre-clearance from the federal government before implementing more abortion-based restrictions in their states and counties.
In May 2019, Harris spoke about the act at town hall event, saying, "Are we going to go back to the days of back-alley abortions? Women died before we had Roe v. Wade in place. On this issue, I'm kind of done."
As President, I will stop dangerous state laws restricting reproductive rights before they go into effect. pic.twitter.com/w0cDxdH51TMay 29, 2019
If passed, the act could stop legislation like the "fetal heartbeat" bill, which bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. (Tennessee lawmakers passed their version (opens in new tab) of this last June.) Sometimes, a heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy—before many people know they're pregnant.
Forty-three other senators currently co-sponsor the Women's Health Protection Act.
Harris warned Trump's Supreme Court nomination could threaten reproductive rights.
Eight days after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (opens in new tab), President Trump announced he would be nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett (opens in new tab) to fill Ginsburg's seat.
“Judge Barrett has a long record of opposing abortion and reproductive rights,” said Harris on the nomination and what this could mean to women everywhere per the Independent (opens in new tab). “There is no other issue that so disrespects and dishonors the work of Justice Ginsburg’s life than undoing the seminal decision in the court’s history that made it clear a woman has a right to make decisions about her own body.”
During Barrett's confirmation hearings, Harris repeatedly pushed Barrett on her views on issues like abortion, but Barrett repeatedly referred to the "Ginsburg rule." The reference was to the late-justices standard that a judge provide no hints, forecasts, or previews of how they would vote on cases.
Harris argued with Barrett on this reasoning, explaining that Judge Ginsburg, during her own 1993 Supreme Court confirmation hearing, voiced her opinion on topics like abortion.
Despite not asking Harris her opinion about whether she was anti or pro-choice, the senator believed her actions spoke her beliefs. "I would suggest that we not pretend that we don't know how this nominee views a woman's right to choose or make her own decisions," Harris said. (opens in new tab)
She's never expressed support for late-term abortions.
At the only vice-presidential debate (opens in new tab), host Susan Page (opens in new tab) pressed on Mike Pence what would become of Roe v. Wade if Judge Barrett was confirmed and what he thought of the case.
The Vice President responded, "I couldn't be more proud to serve as vice president to a president who stands without apology for the sanctity of human life. I'm pro-life. I don't apologize for it." Adding, "Joe Biden and Kamala Harris support taxpayer funding of abortion all the way up to the moment of birth."
This isn't true. Numerous fact-checkers moderating the event dubbed the statement false (opens in new tab), as Harris nor Biden have never voiced their support for abortion up to the moment of birth.
Some anti-choice groups such as the Susan B. Anthony List went as far as to release political advertisements using those same claims. Facebook later blocked the ad (opens in new tab) due to its false nature.
When asked later the same question about the future of Roe v. Wade, Harris responded, "I will always fight for a woman's right to make a decision about her own body. It should be her decision."
Bianca Rodriguez is the Fashion & Luxury Commerce Manager at Hearst Magazines, covering fashion, beauty, and more for Cosmopolitan, Elle, Esquire, Harper’s BAZAAR, and Town & Country. She likes lounging about with a good book and thinks a closet without platform sneakers is a travesty.
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