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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Kamala Harris to speak in Florida on 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on border security and enforcement as Vice President Kamala Harris looks on, at the White House in Washington on Thursday, Jan 5, 2023.


Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Florida on Sunday to deliver a speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion but was overturned last summer.

She will also criticize Republicans across the country who have tried to curtail access to abortion and some forms of contraception in the months since the ruling was overturned, according to officials within her office who outlined the speech on the condition of anonymity.

As the post-Roe landscape in America takes shape, with a patchwork of states working to restrict abortion access or ban it outright, the White House has few options beyond using the bully pulpit to spur support for reproductive rights from state to state.

Without the votes in the Senate to enshrine the protections offered by Roe into law, and with the president unable to grant those protections through executive action, administration officials hope Harris’ appearance in Florida will help sustain the sort of anger that became a driving force for voters during the midterm elections.

“The vice president will make very clear: The fight to secure women’s fundamental right to reproductive health care is far from over,” her press secretary, Kirsten Allen, said in a statement. “She will lay out the consequences of extremist attacks on reproductive freedom in states across our country and underscore the need for Congress to codify Roe.” She added that the president and the vice president are clear that a woman’s right to choose is “nonnegotiable.”

Her office would not say on Wednesday where in the state she will visit. The event also presents Harris with another opportunity to establish herself as the administration’s leading voice on promoting abortion rights, a position she has embraced in recent months. According to her office, Harris has hosted leaders from 38 states in events known as “convenings,” and has gathered dozens of state legislators from 18 states to discuss abortion access.

In her speech Sunday, she is expected to call for national legislation to protect reproductive rights, even though President Joe Biden has said repeatedly that the Senate lacks the votes to do so. She is also expected to highlight the executive action Biden signed last summer, with provisions that include defending patients’ right to travel across state lines to receive medical care and issuing guidance to retail pharmacies.

Harris’ trip to Florida, the country’s third most-populous state, is not a coincidence: Abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy are banned there. Republicans, fresh from winning supermajorities in the Florida legislature, have discussed changing the timeline to 12 weeks. Earlier this month, after the Food and Drug Administration issued a regulation allowing the sale of abortion pills at retail pharmacies, Florida health officials warned pharmacists not to dispense the pills.

While Harris speaks in Florida on Sunday, Biden will issue a proclamation commemorating Roe, one of dozens he makes to mark events each year. Other administration officials are making trips to highlight the importance of abortion access. On Thursday, Xavier Becerra, the secretary of Health and Human Services, will travel to Minnesota, where officials are working to expand access to reproductive health care.

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