As Election Day inches nearer, eyes aren't just on the presidential nominees, they're on the vice president picks too. And as a history-making vice presidential candidate on the ballot, Kamala Harris is especially in the spotlight—and so are her policies. Here, we look into the Democratic senator's stance on abortion access and reproductive rights, major issues that may be on voters' minds in light of President Donald Trump's latest Supreme Court nominee.
Senator Harris had proposed a plan to protect abortion rights.
In 2019, as a Democratic nominee for president, Senator Harris shared her plan to protect abortion access, which was modeled after the Voting Rights Act of 1965, according to Politico. In it, she proposed that states that tend to restrict abortion would have to obtain preclearance by the Department of Justice before enforcing laws affecting access to the procedure.
"Are we gonna go back to the days of back-alley abortions? Women died before we had Roe v. Wade in place," she explained in a town hall last May. She would require that "states that have a history of passing legislation that is designed to prevent or limit a woman's access to reproductive health care, that those laws have to come before my Department of Justice for a review and approval, and until we determine that they are constitutional, they will not take effect."
As President, I will stop dangerous state laws restricting reproductive rights before they go into effect. pic.twitter.com/w0cDxdH51T— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) May 29, 2019
She has co-sponsored abortion bills.
One is the Women's Health Protection Act, which aims to "to protect a woman’s ability to determine whether and when to bear a child or end a pregnancy, and to protect a health care provider’s ability to provide reproductive health care services, including abortion services."
The bill would establish "federal statutory rights for providers to provide and patients to receive abortion care free from medically unnecessary restrictions and bans," according to the Guttmacher Institute. It would also protect providers from limitations put in place by antiabortion lawmakers, such as pre-viability bans or mandatory medical procedures.
Another is the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act, which would bar states from introducing private abortion coverage bans, according to The Washington Post.
She has Planned Parenthood's support.
In addition to endorsing Joe Biden for president, Planned Parenthood has dedicated a section of its website to vouch for Harris too. "Throughout her career, Kamala Harris has been a defender of reproductive rights and health care," part of the intro reads.
In 2019, she also got a 100 percent "choice rating" by NARAL: Pro-Choice America.
YES! This is HUGE! With Sen. @KamalaHarris, we know which ticket won't stop fighting for our repro health and rights. It’s time for real leadership.— Planned Parenthood Action - Text VOTE to 22422 (@PPact) August 11, 2020
Get ready to elect @JoeBiden & our nation’s first Black woman vice president: https://t.co/pG4qNo1Bhe #WeDecide2020 pic.twitter.com/vEa8QNBuMB
She wants to codify Roe v. Wade.
The 1973 ruling of Roe v. Wade made it illegal for states to ban abortions, but it’s still vulnerable to attacks in the form of state legislation that limit or restrict access to the procedure. By codifying the ruling, a woman’s right to an abortion would be a federal law and protected from being overturned in the Supreme Court, according to The Cut.
In a 2019 survey for The New York Times, Harris said yes to codifying Roe. She has also supported Joe Biden's plans to do the same.
“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.”
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.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 26, 2020
As president, @JoeBiden will codify Roe v. Wade and protect the constitutional right to choose.
She has challenged Biden on his stance on the Hyde Amendment.
In July 2019, Harris grilled the former VP on the debate stage during the primaries. "On the Hyde Amendment, vice president, where you made a decision for years to withhold resources to poor women to have access to reproductive health care, including women who were the victims of rape and incest, do you now say that you have evolved and you regret that?" she asked, per The Hill.
"Only since you've been running for president this time, said that you in some way would take that back or you didn't agree with that decision you made over many, many years and this directly impacted so many women in our country."
Biden was a longtime supporter of the amendment, which prevents public funding of abortion under Medicaid, until last summer, when he changed his stance after pressure from fellow Democratic candidates.
She came under fire as attorney general.
In 2013, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, CA faced a ban on performing abortions following a merger with St. Joseph Health System, a Catholic group of hospitals. The deal was approved by then-Attorney General Harris, "who has the legal authority to rule on any change like an abortion ban as a condition of her approving a major transaction involving California nonprofit medical institutions," according to The Los Angeles Times.
Her office investigated the partnership after people raised concerns that the ban was the result of the hospital misinterpreting the effects of the merger and was therefore limiting access to women's reproductive healthcare. In 2014, the attorney general's office reached some partial fixes, including an agreement that Hoag can continue to refuse to provide elective abortions, as long as the hospital helps women access those services elsewhere, the Times also reported.
She stumped Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh with abortion questions.
During Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court hearings in 2018, Harris was among those who questioned the then nominee about his views on abortion and abortion access.
"Can you think of any laws that give government the power to make decisions about the male body?" she asked. Kavanaugh paused, and then said he misinterpreted the query to be about medical procedures. Harris simplified then repeated the question. "I'm not thinking of any right now, Senator," Kavanaugh responded.
.@SenKamalaHarris correctly explains the Ginsburg standard to Judge Kavanaugh—answering fair questions about women’s constitutional rights and acknowledging previous writings. Judge Kavanaugh refuses to own his past writings or answer fair questions. pic.twitter.com/AKQ1PZJxgA— Senate Democrats (@SenateDems) September 6, 2018
How does she compare to Vice President Mike Pence?
During Kavanaugh's hearings, Pence told CNN, "I stand for the sanctity of life" regarding abortion. He also added that Trump and his administration "are pro-life." When asked if he wants Roe v. Wade overturned, he said, "I do, but I haven't been nominated to the Supreme Court."
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