‘I was shocked’: Kamala Harris recounts learning of Roe v. Wade’s demise from Air Force Two – but says Biden administration hasn’t considered allowing abortions to happen on federal land
- Vice President Kamala Harris sat down for her first television interview Monday since the Supreme Court overturned federal abortion protections on Friday
- She warned that ‘everyone has something at risk’ with the court’s decision
- Harris declared there is a ‘health care crisis’ in America moments after the Supreme Court ruled on Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade
- ‘Millions of women in America will go to bed tonight without access to the healthcare and reproductive care that they had this morning,’ she said
- The vice president was visiting a YMCA in Plainfield, Illinois to promote the administration’s work to expand maternal healthcare
- She had to divert her remarks to focus on the Supreme Court opinion that dropped Friday that will hand abortion rights back to the states
In her first sit-down interview since Roe v. Wade was overturned, Harris also rebuffed calls from progressive Democrats to open abortion clinics on federal land in states where the procedure is banned or will be outlawed in the near future.
The vice president told CNN‘s Dana Bash that she was aboard Air Force Two heading to an event on maternal health in Illinois when the news broke.
‘We were headed there to unveil a plan based on the work we’ve been doing to ensure that women receive the kind of support they need during and post pregnancy,’ Harris said.
‘We thought that the decision would come down sometime soon, but not at that moment.’
Harris continued, ‘And I was shocked.’
‘It’s one thing when you know, something’s gonna happen. It’s another thing when it actually happens. And I just actually turned – and I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it, because they actually did it.’
The vice president said she felt personally affected as ‘a woman myself, and the daughter of a woman, and a granddaughter of a woman.’
Vice President Kamala Harris said she was on the way to an event in Illinois on maternal health when the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade caught her by surprise
This photo shows the moment Harris learned about the court’s explosive decision
However, she warned the decision would affect more than just the female population.
‘Everyone has something at risk on this,’ the Democrat said.
‘First of all, if you are a parent of sons, do think about what this means for the life of your son, and what that will mean in terms of the choices he will have.’
Harris repeated the Biden administration’s vows to do what it can to protect abortion access, though she admitted that the White House was not entertaining calls from progressives to open abortion clinics in red states.
‘Can the administration expand abortion access or abortion services on federal land, meaning provide the access on federal land that might be in and around states that ban abortion?’ CNN’s Dana Bash asked.
‘I think that what is most important right now is that we ensure that the restrictions that the states are trying to put up that would prohibit a woman from exercising what we still maintain is her right, that we do everything we can to empower women to not only seek, but to receive the care where it is available,’ Harris said.
Pressed again, the vice president said using federal land is ‘not right now what we are discussing.’
‘Everyone has something at risk on this,’ Harris warned about the right to privacy that underscored the decision in Roe and its sister case Planned Parenthood v. Casey
Moments after the decision was handed down on Friday, Harris warned it would cause a ‘health care crisis’ in a speech she was forced to alter at the last minute during a trip to Plainfield, Illinois.
She shifted from focusing on the administration’s expansion of maternal healthcare to reacting to the rendered opinion ending privacy rights that protected women’s right to get an abortion.
‘Here’s what that decision means: For nearly 50 years, we have talked about what Roe v. Wade protects. Today, right now, as of this minute, we can only talk about what Roe v Wade protected. Past tense,’ Harris said to a crowd gathered at the Plainfield YMCA.
‘This is a health care crisis,’ she said.
‘Understand,’ Harris added, ‘millions of women in America will go to bed tonight without access to the healthcare and reproductive care that they had this morning. Without access to the same health care or reproductive healthcare that their mothers and grandmothers had for 50 years.’
Vice President Kamala Harris declared there is a ‘health care crisis’ in America after the Supreme Court ruled on Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade
Protesters on both sides of the argument descended on the Supreme Court building over the weekend after the opinion was handed down to no longer provide constitutional protects for abortion and to hand the issue back to the states
The vice president’s remarks came shortly after President Joe Biden addressed the nation on the decision and placed the blame directly on his predecessor Donald Trump.
During remarks in the White House’s Cross Hall, Biden called it ‘a very solemn moment’ and a ‘sad day for the court and the country.’
‘Today, the Supreme Court of the United States expressly took away a Constitutional right from the American people, that it had already recognized. They didn’t limit it, they simply took it away. That’s never been done to a right so important to so many Americans,’ Biden said. ‘But they did it.’
‘Now with Roe gone, let’s be very clear, the health and life of women in this nation are now at risk,’ he added.
Biden pointed out how Republican-appointed justices, including by President Richard Nixon, decided Roe and upheld abortion rights in subsequent cases over the years.
‘It was three justices named by one president – Donald Trump – who were at the core of today’s decision to upend the scales of justice and eliminate a fundamental right for women in this country,’ Biden said.
Biden said the laws going into effect in the states are ‘so extreme’ that a woman could be forced to bear their rapist’s child or the child that is the ‘consequence of incest.’
‘The court literally taking America back 150 years,’ Biden said, pointing out some of the statutes from the 1800s that were referenced in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision.
‘It just stuns me,’ he uttered.
President Joe Biden addressed the nation from the White House’s Cross Hall on Friday calling it ‘a very solemn moment’ and a ‘sad day for the court and the country’. He added: ‘The court literally taking America back 150 years’
Harris agreed with her No. 1, saying that the decision moves the country backward.
‘The strength of our nation has always been that we move forward,’ she said in her remarks.
‘Today, I invite all people to stand together in defense of one of the most fundamental ideals and principles that for generations… to stand for liberty, to stand for freedom, to stand for self determination and the right to privacy.’
Harris explained that the decision is not isolated to the issue of abortion, warning that other privacy issues could be at stake in the future.
‘This opinion also says, when you read it, that abortion is not deeply rooted in our nation’s history,’ the vice president said. ‘In holding that it is not deeply rooted in our history, today’s decision on that theory then calls into question other rights that we thought were settled. Such as the right to use birth control, the right to same sex marriage, to interracial marriage’
‘The great aspiration of our nation has been to expand freedom. But the expansion of freedom, clearly, is not inevitable. It is not something that just happens.’
Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his concurring opinion that other cases also relying on the right to medical privacy that was just overturned in Roe, should now also be reconsidered if they are brought before the Court in the future – including contraception and same-sex marriage.
‘[I]n future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,’ the Goeorge Bush Sr.-appointed justice noted.
One of the cases Thomas is referencing is Griswold v. Connecticut, which was a landmark ruling in 1965 that protects married couples’ ability to buy and use contraceptives without government restriction.
Obergefell v. Hodges is a 2015 decision that gave same-sex couples the right to marry – it was protected by the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.