‘Everything is At Stake:’ Kamala Harris Keys in on Reproductive Rights Leading Up to November Election

by Xara Aziz
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris emphasizes that “everything is at stake” regarding reproductive health rights in the upcoming November election. The Biden campaign is intensifying its focus on the contrasting positions of Democratic President Joe Biden and Republican Donald Trump on this issue ahead of their debate this week.

Harris’ remarks coincide with the campaign’s announcement of over 50 events in battleground states and beyond, marking the second anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, which overturned the federal right to an abortion. Biden and his allies aim to remind voters that this landmark decision in 2022 was made by a Supreme Court that included three conservative justices appointed during Trump’s presidency.

“Every person, regardless of gender, should understand that if such a fundamental freedom like the right to make decisions about your own body can be taken away, other freedoms may also be at risk,” Harris stated in an MSNBC interview with Hadley Duvall, a Kentucky abortion rights advocate who was raped by her stepfather as a child. Part of the interview aired on Sunday.

The Biden campaign believes that abortion rights can be a unifying issue in what is expected to be a closely contested general election. Trump has credited the Dobbs decision to his conservative base but has not fully supported a national abortion ban, suggesting in April that the issue should be left to the states and later stating he would not sign a nationwide ban if passed by Congress. He has also avoided detailing his stance on women’s access to the abortion pill mifepristone.

During a campaign event on Saturday, Trump acknowledged his administration’s role in the Dobbs decision, describing it as “something amazing” while recognizing the political risks of further pursuing the issue at this time. “Every voter has to go with your heart and do what’s right, but we also have to get elected,” he said.

Biden is preparing privately at Camp David for Thursday night’s debate in Atlanta, while Trump is expected to hold meetings at his Florida estate as part of his informal preparation.

Hadley Duvall, from Owensboro, Kentucky, first shared her story publicly last fall in a campaign ad during the governor’s race, discussing the impact of abortion restrictions, especially those without exceptions for rape or incest. Duvall also joined First Lady Jill Biden at a Pittsburgh campaign rally on Sunday, where they criticized Trump for supporting the Dobbs decision. “He thinks we can be ignored,” Biden said of Trump. “He doesn’t know that when our bodies are on the line, when our daughters’ futures are at stake, we are immovable and we are unstoppable.”

Following the Dobbs decision, Kentucky enacted a near-total abortion ban, allowing abortions only to save the mother’s life, with no exceptions for rape or incest. Trump recently described the varying state approaches to abortion rights as “a beautiful thing to watch” in a Fox News interview. Duvall responded, “I would like to ask him: What is so beautiful about telling a 12-year-old girl that she must have the baby of her stepfather who raped her?”

Harris plans to mark the Dobbs decision anniversary with campaign events in Arizona and Maryland, while her husband, Doug Emhoff, will be in Michigan. Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., will head to Wisconsin on behalf of the Biden campaign, accompanied by Amanda Zurawski, a Texas woman who was initially denied an abortion despite a condition that meant her baby would not survive, forcing her to wait until she developed a life-threatening case of sepsis before receiving an abortion.

“If there is a woman of reproductive age, then her life is at stake in this election,” Duvall said in the MSNBC interview. “And it does not matter if you have never voted Democrat in your life. It’s time to get off your high horse because women, we don’t get to choose a whole lot, and at least you can choose who to vote for.”

The Associated Press typically does not identify sexual assault victims, but Duvall, 22, has chosen to be identified and has spoken publicly about her experience and its relevance to the abortion debate.

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