Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff traveled to Miami on Friday to hold a conversation about men getting involved in the fight against abortion restrictions, saying that men shouldn’t stay silent about the restrictions on women’s freedom.
“We need more men standing alongside women in this fight. So that’s why I’m here today in Florida,” Emhoff told a group of pro-choice activists gathered at the Convergence Miami office on Northwest Seventh Avenue in Allapattah. “We’re where we need to be in this fight together.”
Speaking to members from the pro-choice group Men4Choice and Planned Parenthood, as well as doctors, Emhoff, 59, said the fight for abortion access can’t just be something that men leave to women.
“We are stakeholders with something to lose in the context of a healthy relationship. In the context of a healthy relationship, the decision whether to have children is a conversation and decision couples manage together. Abortion bans take away your right, your freedom to build your family the way that you and your partner think is best,” said Oren Jacobson, co-executive director of Men4Choice.
Emhoff said that restrictive abortion bans that are being enacted in Republican-led states are a preview of what could be coming next in terms of legislation that could infringe on the rights of all Americans, not just women.
“This is an issue for men. It’s an issue for all of us. It’s about freedom. It’s about the freedom to make decisions about family planning, freedom about medical care without the state dictating what’s happening and it’s also a slippery slope. What’s next? If they take this away, what are they coming for next?” said Emhoff.
Emhoff, husband to Vice President Kamala Harris, the first female vice president in U.S. history, visited Miami amid a flurry of visits by Biden administration officials to Florida in recent weeks. His wife’s own stops in the state since Joe Biden won the 2020 election have often included remarks on abortion access.
Harris visited the state earlier this year to talk about Florida’s abortion ban, which followed the overturning of Roe v Wade in 2022. After the landmark decision ended the right to an abortion, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation to ban most abortions past 15 weeks of pregnancy and then later signed legislation to ban most abortions past 6 weeks of pregnancy.
The more-restrictive law hasn’t gone into effect because the Florida Supreme Court is weighing a challenge that argues that the 15-week law violates the state constitution. The legislation in Florida follows the trend that other states have taken. Some Republican-led states have banned abortions in almost all circumstances.
Emhoff called out DeSantis for pushing forward restrictive abortion laws in Florida and also called out other restrictive Florida laws related to education and LGBTQ+ rights.
“There’s before the court a 15-week total ban without any exemptions and the governor here signed in the dark of night a six-week ban,” said Emhoff. “Going from bad to worse, right here in Florida and this is happening all around the country. What’s the result? Women’s lives are at risk.”
Pro-life groups argue that restrictive abortion bans are working to save the lives of future children and many of those organizations believe that life starts at the act of conception.
On Friday, the Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America organization said that Emhoff’s effort to encourage men to support abortion rights leads to a “culture of death.”
“More men must step up and take responsibility for the children they create as well as speak out against the violence of abortion. In contrast to the culture of death Doug Emhoff is pushing today in Florida, there are men and women leading for life in the region,” E.V. Osment, vice president of communications for SBA Pro-Life America, said in an email to the Miami Herald.
Although conservative states have made moves for more restrictive abortion laws since the Supreme Court decision from 2022, polls suggest a majority of voters are not in agreement with some of the more-restrictive abortion laws that have been passed over the last year. According to a poll conducted in June by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, the majority of U.S. adults, including those living in states with the strictest limits on abortion, want abortion to be legal at least through the initial stages of pregnancy.
Democrats believe that Republicans’ successful push to overturn Roe v Wade and restrict or outright ban abortion at the state level has put them at odds with a majority of America, and have sought to highlight their support for abortion access.
Emhoff said that Biden is going to work to bring back the rights that were lost with the overturning of Roe v Wade.
“It’s also why elections matter. It impacts who sits on the United States Supreme Court, who was responsible for turning over 50 years of precedent and overturning Roe v Wade and it also means if we flip it and elect those in Congress who are with the wide majority of Americans on this issue, we can codify Roe v Wade, and President Biden will sign it,” said Emhoff.