Vice President Kamala Harris slammed what she called Florida’s Republican “so-called leaders” Thursday for passing a new law restricting abortion.
During a visit to the state, Ms. Harris said most Americans want to allow women to “make those most personal decisions for themselves.”
Referring to the state law that prevents abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, Ms. Harris said, “It should not be the government making those decisions, in Florida in particular — there’s no exception for rape or incest.”
“So-called leaders of states, such as some in Florida, are seeking to restrict a woman’s right to make decisions about our body,” the vice president said at a roundtable discussion with pro-choice state officials. “I think that we collectively agree, as do most Americans, that there are certain things the government should just not interfere with.”
A state judge issued a temporary injunction to block the law, but the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, appealed the ruling, which triggered an automatic stay and keeps the law in effect.
The U.S. Supreme Court last month overturned the landmark 1973 case of Roe v. Wade that granted nationwide abortion rights, ruling that states should decide the matter.
Ms. Harris is meeting with elected Democratic officials from various states in the midterm election year to marshal opposition to the abortion ruling and to state laws that impose limits on abortions. On Thursday, she said the battle over abortion is part of a broader fight with Republicans on gay rights and voting rights.
“I look at a state like Florida, and it is from the same so-called leaders that these restrictions are being imposed on women, but there are also restrictions on voting rights,” Ms. Harris said.
“There are also restrictions on the rights that members of our LGBTQ-plus community should have to live and love freely. And so this is the environment in which we work.”
She vowed, “We will together do what we can to stand together for the people of America and each state, and also to build the coalitions between all the communities that are directly impacted, with the knowledge that the whole country has something at stake when we were looking at these laws.”
Earlier Thursday, the vice president spoke in Orlando at an annual gathering of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority for Black women leaders and urged the attendees to elect more Democrats to the Senate. Among the candidates is Democratic Rep. Val Demings of Florida.
“We need two additional United States senators to protect voting rights,” Ms. Harris said. “We need two additional United States senators to protect a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body. And we need to elect people who will defend these rights up and down the ballot — from district attorneys to state attorneys general to local sheriffs to governors.”
She also said electing more Democrats is necessary to enact more gun laws.
“There is still more work to do to see it through, especially when, in America today, while Black people are 13% of America’s population, Black people are 62% of gun homicide victims,” she said.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee said Ms. Harris’ visit was “focused on pushing the Democrats’ radical abortion policies that are out-of-touch with mainstream Floridians and Americans across the country.”
In a press release, the committee asked Ms. Harris, “Are you for any legal limits on abortion?”
The vice president said the Florida abortion law “is going to allow the government to impose its decisions on the women of Florida, instead of giving women the right to choose to make decisions about some of the most personal matters a woman could have to deal with.”
Ms. Harris and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra met with Florida state legislators to discuss steps to preserve abortion access.
Mr. Becerra told the vice president that his agency will work in Florida to carry out “the instructions you and the president have given us try to make sure we preserve that access to care … and that we do it in a way that continues to move our country forward instead of moving backward.”