Kamala Harris didn’t mince words when talking about the abortion rights emergency that—as of the leaked Supreme Court decision last week—just got more desperate.
“All Americans should realize that this is a direct assault on the freedom of women, and it is an attack that can affect all Americans,” the vice president said on a call with a group of reporters, including Glamour, on Thursday, May 12.
It was reported this month that the Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, at which point more than half of all U.S. states will instantly ban abortion. “Here is what it means on a practical level in terms of women, and men, and all genders: Privacy rights are in jeopardy,” Harris said. “When you look at the privacy rights that are in jeopardy, it could very well include the right to obtain contraception. It could very well include the right to marry someone of the same sex.”
The day before, Harris presided over a Senate vote in which all 50 republicans and one democrat voted down the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would have made abortion rights federal law, regardless of the fate of Roe v. Wade. “There are some extremist republican leaders who clearly want to punish and criminalize women,” she said, citing the Texas law that will allow onlookers to sue people who perform or help facilitate abortions.
Harris was clear that there is reason to believe republican lawmakers will not stop at outlawing abortion. She urged Americans to think about contraception and “all the various ways that women and men have take for granted that it is their personal decision—what kind of contraception, whether they take it, how they choose to take it.” Depending on the Supreme Court decision and its interpretation, she warned, the most basic family planning may no longer be guaranteed as a right.
“I also believe strongly there is another fundamental right that is at stake— the right that all should be entitled to self determination,” Harris said, noting that decisions about whether to maintain a pregnancy, give birth, and raise a child are inextricable from freedom to make health decisions, freedom to make economic decisions, and freedom to choose, essentially, who to be.
Forced pregnancy is literally a life or death decision. “We have the highest rate of maternal mortality of any economically strong nation in the world. Women are dying at an extremely high rate,” Harris said. “Black women are three times more likely to die, Native women twice as likely, rural women one and a half times more likely to die.” Harris touted her work on maternal mortality during her time in congress, as well as in her role as VP, noting her recent act of assembling the U.S. cabinet to discuss an unprecedentedly broad government-wide plan to combat maternal mortality.
“There is, at this moment, a time for education, a time for communication, a time for mobilization,” she said. “What should be the trajectory of a nation in terms of progress? Especially a nation that prides itself on being a democracy? We should be in the business of the expansion of rights.”