Kamala Harris travels to Florida as six-week abortion ban goes into effect


(WASHINGTON) — Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Jacksonville, Florida, on Wednesday, to focus on abortion access — the same day the state’s six-week abortion ban goes into effect.

Harris’ trip comes a little more than a week after President Joe Biden also traveled to the state for a campaign event in Tampa, where he blasted the pending ban, which has some narrow exceptions.

Their reelection campaign has been seeking to focus on abortion as a defining issue of the 2024 race.

During Biden’s Tampa event, the president called out former President Donald Trump by name, blaming him for the spread of abortion bans across the country following the overruling of Roe v. Wade in 2022.

“He’s [Trump is] wrong, the Supreme Court was wrong. It should be a constitutional right in the federal Constitution, a federal right, and it shouldn’t matter where in America you live,” Biden said then, adding, “This is about women’s rights.”

Since the decision against Roe, handed down by the court’s six conservative-leaning justices, including three named by Trump, 21 states have enacted restrictions or bans on abortion access.

Biden’s remarks on abortion in Florida were also notable given his complicated relationship with the issue of abortion because of his faith as a devout Catholic.

Instead, the White House and campaign have largely used Harris as their primary messenger on abortion.

She launched a “Reproductive Freedom Tour” in January and quickly traveled to Arizona in April after that state’s Supreme Court ruling upholding the 160-year-old, near-total abortion ban.

Ahead of Harris’ trip to Florida, the Democratic National Committee held a call with reporters and southern Democratic leaders, including Democratic Party chairs from Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.

Democrats have been underlining the Biden campaign’s attacks on Trump, connecting the former president to state bans and warning that if Trump is elected again, restrictions will become more widespread.

Democrats have also emphasized how abortion rights have come out on top every time voters have been casting ballots about it.

“We have seen reproductive rights initiatives win on every ballot since Roe v. Wade was overturned because the vast majority of Americans believe that reproductive health care decisions should be made by women and their doctors, not politicians,” Florida Democratic Chair Nikki Fried said. “And as President Biden has repeatedly said, Trump and extreme Republicans don’t have a clue about the power of women in America, but they will soon find out.”

Trump, for his part, has celebrated the end of Roe but said abortion should now be determined by each state: “At the end of the day, this is all about the will of the people. You must follow your heart or in many cases, your religion or your faith,” he said earlier this month.

While he insists that he wouldn’t sign a national abortion ban as president if Congress passes one, he also hasn’t said that he would veto such a law if needed.

“I won’t have to commit to it because it’ll never — No. 1, it’ll never happen, No. 2, it’s about states’ rights,” he told Time magazine in a recent interview. “You don’t want to go back into the federal government. This was all about getting out of the federal government.”

Harris’ trip to Florida will mark her 12th visit to the state since being sworn in as vice president, a sign of how seriously her and Biden’s campaign is about trying to win back Florida this election cycle following Trump’s 2016 and 2020 wins.

Evan Power, the chair of the Florida GOP, contends that abortion isn’t the issue to tip the state in the opposing party’s favor.

“Democrats made [abortion] the No. 1 issue that they ran in on in Florida in 2022 and we won by 19% of the votes,” Power previously told ABC News.

Referring to the six-week ban, Power has said, “This is what the voters sent their legislators to Tallahassee to deliver on and they did deliver on it. So I don’t think there’s a backlash coming in at all.”

But national and state Democrats believe that the combination of the state’s six-week abortion ban and an abortion ballot measure, which would allow access to the procedure up to viability — considered to be at about the 24th week of pregnancy — will give the party a stronger chance of flipping the state in November given that abortion access has been seen as a winning issue for Democrats since 2022.

“Our agenda, our coalition, and the unique dynamics this election presents make it clear: President Biden is in a stronger position to win Florida this cycle than he was in 2020,” Biden’s campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, wrote in a memo in early April, reflecting the cautious optimism among some in her party.

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