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In a 6 to 3 decision on June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, reversing the court's 50-year-old decision that guaranteed a woman's right to obtain an abortion. The court's action also set off trigger laws that banned or severely restricted abortions in some states and prompted protests across the country.

VP Harris calls for abortion-rights supporters to channel frustration into action

Vice President Kamala Harris said Congress needs to act to codify abortion rights, but acknowledged the political hurdles to that goal.
Cheriss May for NPR
Vice President Kamala Harris said Congress needs to act to codify abortion rights, but acknowledged the political hurdles to that goal.

Vice President Harris said on Tuesday that people who support abortion rights need to stand together and channel their disappointment into political action on the issue ahead of the November 2022 midterm elections.

"We have to stand together in this fight, right — those of us who understand what's at stake," Harris said in an interview with NPR White House correspondent Asma Khalid. Khalid pressed Harris on how Democrats – particularly young Democrats – have become disillusioned because of the decision.


"There is no daylight among us who understand the seriousness of this moment and the real consequence to millions of women, and those who love them, around the country," Harris said. "Now the question becomes, what can we do?"

Harris said Congress needs to pass a law to codify abortion rights – something that would require big wins in what's expected to be a tough race in November.

Vice President Kamala Harris is interviewed by Asma Khalid.
/ Photo by Cheriss May for NPR
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Photo by Cheriss May for NPR
Vice President Kamala Harris is interviewed by Asma Khalid.

"We cannot underestimate the significance of the upcoming elections and the need for all people who care about this issue to understand that we have to have a pro-choice Congress to pass this law," she said, mentioning Senate races in Georgia, North Carolina and Colorado, in particular.

Harris noted that other rights – including same-sex marriage and contraception – could be at risk because of the Supreme Court decision. "I think this is an opportunity to coalition-build - an opportunity to bring under one roof all the folks who understand what's at stake right now," she said.

She declined to engage on the idea of term limits for Supreme Court justices, noting President Biden had been clear that he doesn't favor expanding the court. "I personally think we need to win the midterms," she said.

Reproductive rights is not the only intractable issue that Harris has been assigned since taking office. One of the first issues in her portfolio was finding ways to address the root causes of migration to the U.S. southern border. Khalid asked Harris about the tragic news that at least 50 people died, trapped in a tractor trailer in San Antonio on Monday.

Harris said that the tragedy should prompt change, but also noted that political leaders need to act – and that Congress had not moved on immigration reforms "because they're playing political games."
Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Vice President Kamala Harris in her ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
/ Cheriss May for NPR
/
Cheriss May for NPR
Vice President Kamala Harris in her ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

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