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Harris says overturning Roe v. Wade would be ‘an extreme step backwards’

“The strength of our country has always been that we fight to move forward, that we believe in the expansion of rights not the restriction of rights,” Harris said in remarks ahead of a virtual meeting with abortion providers at the White House on Thursday.

Earlier this month, Politico published a draft majority opinion that would strike down the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion. The final opinion in this case is not expected to be published until late June, and votes and language can change before opinions are formally released.
Since the draft was first made public, the White House has been extremely critical of the potential ruling by the court and President Joe Biden predicted last week that if Roe is overturned then same-sex marriage or access to contraception could be next.

“It’s not just the brutality of taking away a woman’s right to her body … but it also, if you read the opinion … basically says there’s no such thing as the right to privacy. If that holds … mark my words: They are going to go after the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage,” Biden said at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Chicago.

Harris on Thursday made similar comments, warning that it would be “an extreme step backwards” and poses a threat to all Americans, not just women.

“The right to privacy that forms the basis of Roe is the same right to privacy that protects the right to use contraception and the right to marry the person you love, including a person of the same sex. Overturning Roe opens the door to restricting those rights,” Harris said.

The vice president’s comments, while not her first since the draft opinion was leaked, come as more Republican-led states have passed a flurry of new abortion restrictions. The Oklahoma legislature on Thursday passed a bill that would ban abortions from the moment of fertilization, and allow private citizens to sue abortion providers.

Harris, reacting shortly after the bill passed the state legislature, described it as “extreme” and “outrageous.”

“Now think about that for a second. From the moment of fertilization — it’s outrageous and it’s just the latest in a series of extreme laws around the country,” Harris said.

During her virtual meeting with abortion providers on Thursday, Harris heard how some of these new laws restricting access to abortion will affect women across the country, according to a White House official. The OB/GYNs and other providers Harris met with on Thursday include doctors who practice in states like Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri, this person added.

While the White House has limited options when it comes to executive action on abortion, the President has promised to fight to protect access.

“We will be ready when any ruling is issued,” Biden said earlier this month.

Leading up to the anticipated decision, Democrats in Congress have also attempted to act but lack the necessary votes to overcome the filibuster. Harris last week presided over the failed vote by Senate Democrats to advance the Women’s Health Protection Act, aimed at preserving access to abortion nationwide.

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