By Karen Stokes
Vice President Kamala Harris met with civil rights and reproductive rights leaders at the White House to discuss the fight to protect reproductive health care and abortion access.
“With the Supreme Court making the decision in Dobbs, to take a constitutional right that has been recognized from the people of America from the women of America has created a healthcare crisis in America,” Harris said.
“It has highlighted the fact that as we all know, we must be vigilant and we must stand shoulder-to-shoulder to ensure that every voice is represented in a way that allows them equal access to all that they need to thrive,” she said.
The Biden administration has made reproductive rights and abortion care a focal point, issuing two executive actions to strengthen access to contraception and a woman’s right to travel for abortion care.
Participants included Planned Parenthood President, Alexis McGill Johnson, Nancy Northrup of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Marc H. Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League, Rev. Al Sharpton, President and Founder, National Action Network and many other civil right and reproduction rights leaders.
Monday’s roundtable discussion is part of a series of meetings the Biden administration is holding to plan a path forward as many states are already imposing new restrictions.
Just three months after Roe v. Wade fell, abortion access in more than half of U.S. states is considered ‘restrictive,’ according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.
That includes abortion bans in 11 states, two states where abortion is prohibited after six weeks of pregnancy and nine states that limit access in other ways.
For nearly 50 years, women have had the freedom to choose what to do with their own bodies. The impact of the rollback on reproductive health access stunted decades of progress for gender equity and reproductive freedom.
The impact of the ban on reproduction rights disproportionately affects women of color and vulnerable women and could hurt women for generations.
Every week, the abortion landscape changes,” said Planned Parenthood President Alexis McGill Johnson. “Providers, hospitals, administrators, pharmacists have had to become lawyers in order to interpret what these bans mean for their patients.”
Legislation to create federal protections for abortion and contraception have passed the House of Representatives, but has been unable to pass in the Senate.
“The (Dobbs) decision is out of step with global trends,” said Nancy Northrup of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which argued the case before the high court.”
“We are standing virtually alone in regressing on abortion rights throughout the world,” she said.
According to Pew Research Center, 6 in 10 U.S. adults say abortion should be legal in most cases, and abortion access is becoming increasingly important to voters.
“This is a movement I believe is about freedom and justice,” said Harris.