VP Harris visits abortion clinic as Democrats bet big on reproductive rights in 2024

Written by on March 14, 2024

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(MINNEAPOLIS) — Vice President Kamala Harris visited an abortion clinic in Minnesota on Thursday, a trip believed to be the first of its kind for any president or vice president.

The visit spotlighted the central role Harris is playing in the administration’s push on preserving abortion access and reproductive rights in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overruling of Roe v. Wade.

It’s also an issue Democrats believe will be critical heading into the 2024 general election.

Abortion rights have fueled Democratic wins across the country in the 2022 and 2023 cycles.

President Joe Biden and Harris made their first joint campaign appearance at an abortion rights rally in Virginia, where they blasted former President Donald Trump as “responsible” for the infringements on reproductive freedom.

In the Twin Cities, Harris walked through the Planned Parenthood North Central States and spent time with two dozen health care workers. Dr. Sarah Traxler, the clinic’s chief medical officer, called Harris’ visit a “historic moment.”

“Many of you have asked why I am here at this facility, and I will tell you it is because right now in our country we are facing a very serious health crisis,” Harris said. “And the crisis is affecting many, many people in our country, most of whom are frankly silently suffering after the United States Supreme Court took a constitutional right that had been recognized from the people of America, from the women of America.”

Harris also railed against attacks on people’s reproductive rights she called “outrageous and in many instances just plain immoral.”

“How dare these elected leaders believe they are in a better position to tell women what they need to tell them and what is in their best interest? We have to be a nation that trusts women,” Harris said.

Minnesota has taken several steps since the fall of Roe to protect reproductive care. Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, signed a bill protecting the right to an abortion in the state constitution in 2023, making the state a safe haven of sorts for women seeking care.

Walz and Rep. Betty McCollum, a Democrat representing Minnesota’s 4th Congressional District, joined Harris during the visit.

“I’m here at this health care clinic to uplift the work that is happening in Minnesota as an example of what true leadership looks like,” Harris said. “Which is to understand, it is only right and fair, that people have access to the health care they need, and that they have access to health care in an environment where they are treated with dignity.”

Traxler called Minnesota a “bastion of access for abortion care” as she spoke about the sharp increase in patients coming from other states since Roe was struck down and the many state-level restrictions that followed.

“Our new abortion landscape is difficult,” Traxler said. “It is dangerous and it is putting my patients and healthcare providers at severe risk.”

When pressed about her role in protecting abortion care, given the administration is limited in what they can do without Congress, and there is currently no path to codify Roe, Harris made her election pitch.

“Congress will pass that bill when we win back the House. I am sure that,” Harris said.

“Elections matter. What happened here in Minnesota, with the reelection of the governor, and the turning of the state legislature is what has led to ensuring that these fundamental rights are intact and are protected,” she continued.

Harris’ travel to Minneapolis is part of her “Fight for Reproductive Freedoms” tour, which she kicked off this past January on what would have been the 51st anniversary of Roe. It will be her sixth stop on the tour after visits to Wisconsin, California, Michigan, Georgia and Arizona.

Biden, who will be campaigning Thursday in battleground Michigan, has thanked Harris for her role on this issue.

“Like most Americans, I believe Roe v. Wade got it right,” Biden said last week during his State of the Union address. “And I thank Vice President Harris for being an incredible leader, defending reproductive freedom and so much more.”

“But my predecessor came to office determined to see Roe v. Wade overturned,” Biden continued in his speech. “He’s the reason it was overturned. In fact, he brags about it. Look at the chaos that has resulted.”

ABC News’ Alexandra Hutzler contributed to this report.

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