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Kamala Harris makes historic abortion clinic visit


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US vice president Kamala Harris toured an abortion clinic Thursday (14), highlighting the key election issue of reproductive rights in what is believed to be the first such visit by a president or vice president.

“We have to be a nation that trusts women,” the Democrat said as she met staff at the Planned Parenthood center in Saint Paul in the Midwestern state of Minnesota.

“These attacks against an individual’s right to make decisions about their own body are outrageous,” said Harris, who is the first female, black and South Asian vice president in US history.

The landmark visit is part of Harris’s nationwide tour focusing on the emotive issue following the conservative-dominated US Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to reverse the nationwide right to abortion.

US president Joe Biden’s reelection campaign has highlighted the issue as a vote winner, with his Republican rival Donald Trump repeatedly claiming credit for picking the justices who enabled the decision.

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Twenty-one states brought in full or partial abortion bans since the Supreme Court decision, while some Republicans are pushing for a nationwide ban.

About two dozen anti-abortion protesters rallied outside the clinic Harris visited, holding signs that read “Planned Parenthood = Abortion” and “Abortion is not health care.”

Harris described abortion opponents as “extremists.”

She praised staff at the clinic, saying they had “dedicated their lives to the profession of providing health care in a safe place that gives people dignity.”

A White House official said Harris would hear stories during her visit about “how Minnesota has been impacted by extreme abortion bans in other states,” with women having to travel out of state for the procedure.

Biden fiercely defended reproductive rights in his annual State of the Union address to Congress last week, warning Republican anti-abortion lawmakers of the “power of women.”

He also pledged to resist any attempt to bring in a federal abortion ban and said he would push to enshrine the right to the procedure in law if he wins a second term.

The White House has highlighted the erosion of reproductive rights in the US since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling which had protected abortion access nationwide.

Biden is a devout Catholic, but as president he has stood firm in his support for abortion access.

Such protections have prevailed on every state ballot initiative related to the issue since Roe was overturned, giving Democrats hope it will be at the front of voters’ minds in November.

First Lady Jill Biden hosted two figures in the reproductive rights fight for the president’s speech last week.

One was Kate Cox, a Texas mother who sued last year for the right to an abortion, but was forced to travel out of state for the emergency termination of her nonviable pregnancy.

Also present was Latorya Beasley of Alabama, whose in-vitro fertilization process was interrupted when the state’s supreme court ruled last month that frozen embryos should be considered children.




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