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Vice President Kamala Harris defends abortion rights

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Vice President Kamala Harris addressed Republican claims that Democrats support abortions up until birth, categorizing such assertions as a “mischaracterization.” While advocating for the protection of abortion rights, Harris avoided specifying the exact point in pregnancy when abortion access should be restricted.

Harris urged Congress to solidify abortion rights into law following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, a landmark decision that established the constitutional right to abortion. In the wake of this development, several states have rolled back abortion rights.

“Congress has the ability to put back in place the rights that the Supreme Court took from the women of America,” she emphasized.

However, the legislative path to codify Roe into law faces challenges, as it requires 60 votes in the Senate to avoid a filibuster and a House majority, making it currently improbable that such legislation will pass. The Women’s Health Protection Act, endorsed by both the president and vice president, failed in the Senate last year when put to a vote.

When asked by “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan about the specific week of pregnancy when abortion access should be restricted, Harris repeatedly referred to the need to reinstate “the protections of Roe v. Wade” but refrained from directly addressing the question. Roe v. Wade had guaranteed abortion access up to the point of “viability,” which can occur between 20 and 24 weeks due to scientific advancements.

Harris defended the stance, stating, “We’re not trying to do anything that did not exist before June of last year.”

Brennan pressed further, noting Republican claims about a lack of a precise cutoff date allowing Democrats to perform abortions up until birth, although statistics showed otherwise. In 2020, less than 1% of abortions occurred after 21 weeks, with the majority occurring before 13 weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Harris dismissed this claim as “ridiculous” and a “mischaracterization of the point” without providing specific details. Some progressive Democrats oppose setting a legal definition for the permissible abortion window, asserting that the decision should remain solely between a woman and her doctor.

Harris summed up her stance, saying, “I believe that we should put the protections of Roe v. Wade into law, and the way that will happen is if we have a United States Congress who, regardless of their personal views, agree that women in America should be trusted to make decisions about their lives and bodies based on what they know to be in their best interest. It’s that simple.”

President Biden, in June, offered insights into his position on the matter, stating that he’s not “big on abortion” but believes Roe v. Wade struck the right balance. He emphasized that, in “the first three months or thereabouts,” the decision to obtain an abortion is between a woman and her family according to most major religions. The next three months are a matter between a woman and her doctor, and the last three months require negotiation, except in cases where a woman’s physical health is at risk.

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