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Vice President Kamala Harris Visits Planned Parenthood Clinic in Historic First

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This Thursday, Vice President Kamala Harris made history during a visit to a Minnesota Planned Parenthood clinic that provides abortion care, she’s the first sitting vice president to make such a visit. Abortion and reproductive health care rights have been a priority for the Biden administration’s reelection bid since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022.

The vice president spoke with reporters after her historic visit, opening statements with thanks to local state officials, including Governor Tim Walz, who signed the Protect Reproductive Options Act into law in 2023, enshrining access to abortion into Minnesota law.

Explaining the reason for her visit, Vice President Harris noted the ongoing health crisis in the wake of Roe being overturned. “The crisis is affecting many, many people in our country, most of whom are frankly silently suffering,” Harris said. “After the United States Supreme Court took a constitutional right that had been recognized from the people of America, from the women of America, in states around our country extremists have proposed and passed laws that have denied women access to reproductive healthcare.”

She spoke plainly about the nature of the crisis she alluded to, including meeting with women who experienced miscarriages, and those who were denied healthcare because the providers in emergency rooms could be imprisoned for providing healthcare. Pointing to Minnesota as an example of “what true leadership looks like.”

In a quip that underlined the rarity for sitting White House officials to speak directly about women’s reproductive rights, Harris said, “it is absolutely about healthcare and reproductive healthcare, so everyone, get ready for the language — uterus. That part of the body needs a lot of medical care from time to time.” Pointing to the variety of needs that Planned Parenthood offers to its patients beyond abortion care, Harris listed issues like fibroids, contraceptive care, and breast cancer screenings.

“In this environment, these attacks against an individual’s right to make decisions about their own body are outrageous, and in many instances just plain old immoral,” Harris said from the lobby of the Planned Parenthood facility. “How dare these elected leaders believe they are in a better position to tell women what they need, to tell women what is in their best interest. We have to be a nation that trusts women.”

Sarah Traxler, the chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood North Central States, also gave comments, following Harris’ tour of the clinic. “It’s a historic moment,” she Traxler said, of Harris’ visit. “And one that demonstrates how critically important access to reproductive health care is to people and their families across the country.”

Traxler also said that since the Supreme Court’s decision, Planned Parenthood in Minnesota has seen a 25% increase in abortions and a nearly 100% increase in out-of-state patients seeking their services, including from states beyond the ones that border Minnesota. “From faraway states like Texas, Alabama, Wyoming, Florida, Oklahoma, Missouri, and the list goes on,” she said. “To know that I’m trusted to do my job is a comfort to me, but it should be a standard everywhere.”

“There’s a fundamental point on this issue which I think most people agree with, which is that one does not have to abandon their faith or deeply held beliefs to agree that the government should not be telling women what to do with their body. If she chooses, she will consult with her priest, her rabbi, her imam, but it’s not for the government to tell her what she can and cannot do with her body,” Harris said as she closed her remarks.

Harris vowed that Democrats, if regaining control of Congress and the White House, would codify federal abortion rights into law.


Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue