Vice President Kamala Harris visited Des Moines Thursday to talk with Democratic lawmakers and abortion rights advocates. “People around our country are concerned, afraid, confused, desperate, in many ways feeling very alone in terms of what are their options and what are their rights,” Harris said.
The vice president’s visit came a day after a federal judge heard arguments in a case that could end nationwide access to abortion pills. Harris said the Biden Administration is taking the case :very seriously” and she hinted appeals could reach the U.S. Supreme Court if the Texas judge moves to ban abortion pills. “We are prepared to do whatever we may and can if the court rules in a way that we believe is in the best interest of the public health of America,” Harris said.
Medication abortions now account for more than half of all abortions in the U.S. “Politicians are asking a court of law to undo a decision by the FDA that was made on the basis of peer review of the work of medical health professionals 20 years ago that deemed a particular medication — mifepristone — to be safe,” she said.
Harris suggested if a judge is able to ban this medication, that would open the door to legal challenges for other FDA approved drugs. “We should all understand that these attacks go beyond reproductive health,” Harris said.
Abortion is legal in Iowa up to the 20th week of a pregnancy. Governor Kim Reynolds, though, has cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last summer that overturned the 1973 decision that legalized abortion — asking the Iowa Supreme Court to let a 2018 law go into effect. That law, which Reynolds signed, would ban abortions after the 6th week of pregnancy. Harris said for that and other reasons, Iowa is on the front lines of the fight over abortion.
“What we know in Iowa is that there is an attorney general who has joined attorneys general around the country who are asking the court to overturn an FDA approved medication — mifepristone,” Harris said. “There are attorneys general around the country, including here, who are attempting to tell pharmacies to not dispense abortion medication.”
Walgreens announced recently it would not dispense or mail abortion pills in Iowa and many other states. In a written statement, Iowa Republican Party chairman Jeff Kaufmann said “it’s too bad Harris spent her time talking about everything other than the issues that are actually at the top of Iowans’ minds –the disastrous economy and runaway inflation.”
Harris arrived in Iowa late this morning and the discussion about abortion rights was held at Grand View University. Harris then watched the second half of her alma mater’s NCAA men’s basketball game. After Howard University’s loss to Kansas, Harris met the team in the locker room and told the Bison players their never-give-up attitude had been an inspiration and they had made Howard alums around the world proud.