Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday called for Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision affirming that women have a constitutional right to an abortion — to become law.
“We need to codify Roe v. Wade,” Harris told reporters at the White House, where she met with abortion providers and activists.
Her comments came after the Justice Department earlier Thursday sued Texas over the state’s new anti-abortion law, arguing that it was enacted “in open defiance of the Constitution.”
“Today the DOJ has spoken loudly in saying that this law is patently unconstitutional,” Harris said during the meeting.
The legislation, known as Senate Bill 8 or SB8, bans abortion after cardiac activity is detected, around six weeks, and leaves enforcement up to private citizens, using civil lawsuits instead of criminal prosecution. It authorizes payment of $10,000 or more to anyone who successfully accuses a person in court of performing or aiding an abortion.
Harris, the former California Attorney General, slammed the law as “essentially an abortion bounty law” and criticized the Supreme Court for failing to grant an emergency appeal from abortion providers that sought to block the legislation earlier this month.
“The Supreme Court has allowed a state law to stand that deputizes citizens, anyone, to proclaim themselves in a position to have a right under law to interfere with those choices that that woman has made,” she said.
Harris noted that Texas wasn’t the only state to curb the procedure, saying that 22 so far “have laws that could be used to restrict the legal status of abortion.”
“Ninety provisions that restrict access to reproductive health care were passed in 2021,” she said. “Some states like Kentucky and Mississippi have only one abortion clinic.”
She vowed that the Biden administration would fight to protect the constitutional right to an abortion.
“The right of women to make decisions about their own bodies is not negotiable,” she said.
“No legislative institution has the right to circumvent the constitution of the United States in an attempt to interfere with a woman to make those decisions.”