WASHINGTON — Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday framed the Supreme Court’s potential decision to overturn Roe v. 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, published earlier this month by Politico, indicated that a majority of the high court is prepared to overturn the 1973 landmark case, which found that the Constitution protects access to abortion and, by extension, the right to privacy. Harris said she was worried that such a ruling could eventually imperil gay marriage and access to contraceptives.
Overturning the landmark case “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 would be the first time in at least five decades Americans would 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,” Harris said during a virtual meeting with doctors who practice reproductive health in Oklahoma, Texas, California, Kansas and Missouri. “So this, when and it if it happens, will be an extreme step backward.”
The prospect of overturning the case has incensed many on the left, and it has the potential to turn abortion into a major issue in the midterm elections, which so far has been dominated by concerns over inflation and gas prices.
Harris’ Thursday remarks indicate that she is emerging as the leading voice in her party on the issue. Earlier this month, she lit into Republicans for “trying to weaponize the use of the law against women.”
After the Republican-controlled Senate 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 restrictive laws that banned most abortions. Some places have gone as far as to ban abortion for those who are victims of rape and incest and to criminalize those that seek or carry out the medical procedure. Many Republicans and anti-abortion advocates say such laws are necessary to protect the rights of fetuses.
Harris on Thursday said 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,” Harris said.
Harris presided last week over the Senate when it failed to vote to move forward a bill that would codify the right to have an abortion. A similar bill in September passed the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives in a 218-211 vote. Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas was the only Democrat to cross the aisle and vote against it. No Republicans supported the measure.©2022 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.