Vice President Harris Blasts States for Enacting Abortion Bans; Pro-Life Groups Respond

The vice president suggested on ABC that the federal government step in and codify the standards set in Roe v. Wade. Some pro-life organizations spoke out against the comments and defended pro-life laws.

Vice President Kamala Harris delivers a virtual address to the Generation Equality Forum on June 30, 2021.
Vice President Kamala Harris delivers a virtual address to the Generation Equality Forum on June 30, 2021. (photo: The White House / YouTube)

Vice President Kamala Harris lamented the growing number of states that have restricted abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and encouraged Congress to enact pro-abortion legislation, drawing ire from national pro-life groups.

“There’s something underlying this approach that states like Iowa have taken that really suggests that they’re — that they don’t trust women to be able to know what’s in their best interests and make the decision accordingly,” Harris said in an interview with ABC News Live Prime, which the station plans to air in full on Monday night.

Iowa is the latest state to approve new abortion restrictions when the state’s governor signed a six-week abortion ban earlier this month. A state judge temporarily halted its enforcement as the court weighs arguments about its compatibility with the state Constitution. The law would prohibit abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

The vice president suggested that the federal government step in and codify the abortion standards set in Roe v. Wade, which is in line with what President Joe Biden and his administration have called for since the Supreme Court overturned that decision. This would prevent states from enacting pro-life legislation.

“Congress has the ability to put back in place the protections that the Supreme Court took away,” Harris said. “And President Joe Biden has been very clear: When that happens, he will sign it.”

Harris said the abortion issue is “not some intellectual debate” and argued that “every day in America, there are people suffering, silently suffering in many cases.” She expressed her support for ballot initiatives that seek to establish pro-abortion laws in states that have pro-life governments. 

“So I am concerned about what’s been happening, but I also have faith in the people of America,” the vice president said.

Harris also alleged that some women have been denied medical services for treatments related to miscarriages in pro-life states.

Some pro-life organizations spoke out against Harris’ comments and defended the pro-life laws that have been passed in about two dozen states. 

“Contrary to the vice president’s statements in her interview with ABC, abortion is not health care, and yet Vice President Harris parroted abortion-industry talking points with ease and repeated the lie that pro-life laws are preventing treatment for women who have had or are having miscarriages,” Carol Tobias, the president of National Right to Life, told CNA. 

“Tragically, since 1973, abortion has taken the lives of more than 64 million unborn children,” Tobias added. “The only thing we agree on with Vice President Harris is that the abortion issue is not an intellectual debate — millions of lives have been lost and more preborn lives are at stake.”

E.V. Osment, the vice president of communications for Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, cited polls that suggest most Americans support restricting abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

“Kamala Harris states she has faith in the American people,” Osment said. “If true, then why is she not advocating for abortion limits, as desired by most Americans? Recent poll after poll show most Americans want abortion limited by 15 weeks, when science proves that the baby can feel pain in the womb. This is a position she’s never advocated for.”

Osment argued that Harris and the Democratic Party’s abortion platform is “radical” and not in line with “the will of Americans.” 

“When Harris states that people are silently suffering as a result of abortion laws, she overlooks our nation’s most vulnerable population,” Osment added. “Since Roe v. Wade, over 63 million children have suffered and lost their lives silently from dismemberment and chemical abortions.”

Just over one year ago, on June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned nearly half a century of precedent, which had kept abortion legal nationwide and prevented states from imposing most restrictions. Some states approved trigger laws to restrict abortion as soon as the precedent was overturned and other states passed laws in their next legislative session to protect unborn children. 

More than a dozen states banned most abortions from the moment of conception, most of which maintained certain exceptions, such as rape and incest and to save the life of the mother. In about a half a dozen states, lawmakers put more restrictions on abortion, such as the six-week limit in Georgia and the 18-week limit in Utah. 

Pro-abortion activists have taken to ballot initiatives in an attempt to enshrine a wide range of pro-abortion policies in state constitutions where lawmakers have passed pro-life laws. In Ohio, there will be such a measure on the ballot on Nov. 7, and there are similar initiatives underway in Florida, Missouri and South Dakota. 

Judges have blocked the enforcement of pro-life legislation in about five states, where the measures are currently working themselves through the court system. There have been other legal efforts in several pro-life states that have asked courts to strike down their restrictions on abortion.