VP Harris: Texas Abortion Law Is ‘Essentially an Abortion Bounty Law’

By Melanie Arter | September 10, 2021 | 12:35pm EDT
Vice President Kamala Harris holds a roundtable discussion on reproductive rights at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, in Washington, DC on September 9, 2021. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
Vice President Kamala Harris holds a roundtable discussion on reproductive rights at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, in Washington, DC on September 9, 2021. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - Vice President Kamala Harris said Thursday that the Texas abortion law, which bans abortions when an unborn baby has a heartbeat, amounts to “an abortion bounty law, empowering vigilantes with a private right of action to interfere with a woman’s relationship with her healthcare provider.”

Speaking prior to a “reproductive rights roundtable” on Thursday, the vice president said that she and President Joe Biden are “unequivocal” in their support of “Roe v. Wade and the constitutionality of Roe v. Wade, and the right of women to make decisions for themselves with whomever they choose — about their own bodies.”  

And, needless to say, the right of women to make decisions about their own bodies is not negotiable. The right of women to make decisions about their own bodies is their decision. It is their body, and no legislative institutions have the right to circumvent the Constitution of the United States in an attempt to interfere with, much less to prevent, a woman to make those decisions.

So we will have a conversation about how what is happening in Texas is affect- — affecting women in Texas, but, as we know, it’s not only Texas where this is happening.  And I know we’re going to talk about Mississippi. We’re talking about New Mexico. We’re going to talk about the United States and what we must do collectively — all of us — to protect the women of our country and protect their constitutional rights.

All of this, again, is in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, as it relates to the Texas law, which is essentially an abortion bounty law, empowering vigilantes with a private right of action to interfere with a woman’s relationship with her healthcare provider.

The Supreme Court has allowed a state law to stand that deputizes citizens — anyone — to proclaim themselves in a position to have a right under law to interfere with those choices that that woman has made.

Today, however, the United States Department of Justice has spoken loudly in saying that this law is patently unconstitutional and that the United States Department of Justice is prepared to take action and to sue, understanding that what Texas has done is a violation of the United States Constitution.

Today, also, our Gender Policy Council, the leaders of whom are here, will talk — as part of this conversation — about the whole-of-government approach that our administration is taking to protect women and to protect healthcare providers and all those who have had the best interest in protecting the constitutional rights of women so that we can ensure that — to the extent we are able to elevate the voices and protect constitutional rights — that we are doing everything within our power as an administration to get that done.

And on the point about Texas, this is not a one-off. It’s not the only state that is doing this. Right now, there are 22 states that have laws that could be used to restrict the legal status of abortions - 22.  Ninety provisions that restrict access to reproductive healthcare were passed in 2021 - 90 provisions. 

Some states, like Kentucky and Mississippi, have only one abortion clinic, and we will talk about what that has meant not only to the healthcare professionals and the residents of those states, but also the impact to neighboring states and healthcare professionals from neighboring states. 

And today, you know, I simply want to talk also about what happens when — when we do the right thing, which is to provide all people with access to healthcare, because we made a statement a long time ago that we agree that it is a human right — should be thought of as a civil right — for all people to have access to healthcare, regardless of their gender, regardless of their status, regardless of where they live.

And so, when we move closer to our national goal of women’s full participation in our nation, including ensuring that all women have access to healthcare, including reproductive healthcare, I believe we will be a stronger nation. I believe we will be closer to what we say we hold as an ideal, which is all people are equal and should be treated that way, including their access to essential services.

So, for me, this is truly an issue that is about full participation, and in that way, we know that when all people are able to fully participate, our democracy is stronger and everyone benefits, and in that way, this issue connects to everyone.

When people are able to design their lives in a way that they can determine their own futures, we are a stronger democracy and we are a stronger nation. When people are able to make choices without government interference for themselves — in terms of their wellbeing and the wellbeing of their family, in consultation with whomever they may choose — we are a stronger society. So, it is with that spirit that we will have this conversation now.

The vice president was asked what immediate steps the administration can take to combat the Texas abortion law, particularly any legislation that the administration supports and as the first woman vice president is this an issue that she wants to take ownership over.

“Well, let me tell you, first of all, this is an issue that I’ve been — along with so many other leaders, including the leaders at this table — been a strong advocate for, which is the right of a woman to make decisions about her own body and not to have anybody interfere with her ability and her right to make that decision. On the issue of laws, the president has said, I have said, and I will repeat myself: We need to codify Roe v. Wade,” Harris said.

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