As the 2020 field takes shape, White House hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) has been laying out an ambitious set of goals for her potential presidency. She's pitched everything from executive orders on gun control to Medicare for All — and now, she's rolling out a proposal in response to recent abortion laws passed across the country. Kamala Harris' reproductive rights proposal includes an effort to stop abortion bans, so that's a clapback at all that's been going on in the United States as of late.
Harris elaborated on her plan during an MSNBC town hall on May 28. She said that if she wins the White House, she intends to require states with a history of restricting abortion access submit those laws to her Department of Justice (DOJ) for approval before they can go into effect. "Until we determine that they are constitutional, they will not take effect," she told host Lawrence O'Donnell.
The intent is to shift the responsibility to states to prove that any new restrictions don't impede access or add an additional burden to anyone seeking an abortion. The idea comes from the Voting Rights Act, which had required that states with a history of racial discrimination receive approval of changes to their voting laws from the DOJ. The requirement was lifted by the Supreme Court in 2013.
That's not all that Harris will have on her presidential to-do list. A senior campaign official tells Elite Daily in a statement that Harris will also move to protect reproductive rights groups such as Planned Parenthood from legislation to defund its health services; to select judges who support Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that guaranteed the right to an abortion at the federal level; and to fight to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which bans public money (including Medicaid funds) from being used for abortions in almost all circumstances, a restriction which disproportionately affects low-income women and women of color.
The announcement comes after several states passed strict anti-abortion laws that limit or nearly ban the procedure. For example, Alabama's new abortion law is a near total ban on abortion, prohibiting the procedure even in cases of rape or incest. It also makes abortion a criminal offense. While people who have an abortion would not be criminally liable, abortion providers could face anywhere between 10 and 99 years in prison. After Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bill into law on May 15, Harris strongly criticized the legislation, saying in a town hall in New Hampshire the same day that “women’s health care is under attack and we will not stand for it."
According to Politico, she continued:
The idea that supposed leaders have passed a law that would criminalize a physician for assisting a woman on something that she, in consult with her physician, with her God, with her faith leader, has made a decision to do, that it’s her body, that you would criminalize, and say for up to 99 years — which is a life sentence. And this is the same state and the same kind of people who also stand in the way of what women need in terms of a ban on preexisting conditions to have access to issues like prenatal care — like, they need to check their hypocrisy.
Other states — such as Kentucky, Ohio, Mississippi, and Georgia — have passed "heartbeat bills" which outlaw abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which generally occurs around six weeks of pregnancy, before many people even know they are pregnant. Anti-abortion advocates have reportedly been pushing the legislation in hopes that the now-conservative Supreme Court will eventually decide to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Will it actually happen? Voters will have to decide if they're down for the cause once the polls open. Anything's possible, right?