WASHINGTON (BP) – Vice President Kamala Harris made an apparent comparison between legislative efforts to protect preborn children and chattel slavery in America during a speech Monday (July 18).
Speaking to the 113th NAACP National Convention, Harris said, “We know, NAACP, that our country has a history of claiming ownership over human bodies.
“And today, extremists, so-called leaders are criminalizing doctors and punishing women for making health-care decisions for themselves – personal decisions that it is her right to make in consultation with her doctor, her pastor, her priest, her rabbi, her loved ones, not her government telling her what to do.”
Harris addressed the country’s oldest and largest civil rights organization in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. That opinion reversed the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. As a result, the justices returned abortion regulation to the 50 states, where nearly half already have laws prohibiting the procedure either throughout pregnancy or at a stage of pregnancy, although courts have blocked the enforcement of some.
Brent Leatherwood, acting president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said of Harris’ comments, “The point that the vice president is obviously missing is that, in her pro-abortion worldview, human bodies continue to be treated as worthless and disposable. She is just failing to recognize the obvious: Those preborn lives deserve the freedom to live and should be protected by our laws, not extinguished by them.”
Leatherwood told Baptist Press in written remarks, “These comments are further evidence that, while the Dobbs decision represents an unqualified victory for the pro-life movement, it also means our work continues through principled advocacy to leaders, life-saving efforts in the legislative arena and earnest appeals to the conscience of every American. Central to all of this will be our pastors, whose proclamations about the truth of God’s Word that each and every life is precious will be as important as ever.”
Harris’ remarks to the NAACP meeting in Atlantic City, N.J., came during a 28-minute speech that promoted the Biden administration’s record on multiple issues and also addressed gun violence and voting rights.
She described the Supreme Court’s 5-4 opinion in Dobbs as “the first time in generations” the justices “took away a constitutional right, that had been recognized, from the people of America, from the women of America.”
Harris – the first U.S. vice president to be Black, South Asian American or female – told the audience that supporting the ability of a woman and not the government to make a decision about her body “does not require anyone to abandon their faith or their beliefs. It just requires us to agree the government shouldn’t be making that decision for her.”
Katie Glenn, state policy director for Susan B. Anthony Pro-life America, tweeted in response to Harris’ assertion: “Cold comfort for the majority of doctors and nurses you want to force out of the profession because they won’t participate in abortion for moral, ethical, or religious reasons.”
The vice president’s abortion rights advocacy at the NAACP meeting was the latest in a series of Biden administration speeches and actions criticizing or seeking to offset the high court’s watershed decision on abortion rights.
While in Atlantic City, Harris held her fourth meeting with state legislators regarding abortion rights since the Supreme Court’s decision. She previously met with state lawmakers July 8 at the White House, July 14 in Orlando and July 16 in Philadelphia, according to the White House.
In her meeting Monday with more than 20 New Jersey legislators, local leaders and abortion rights advocates, Harris said she believes “this is a national health care crisis.” The speakers included Roslyn Rogers Collins, president of abortion provider Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan New Jersey.
Among other actions taken by President Biden and his administration since Roe was overturned:
- The president announced the day the Dobbs opinion was issued his administration would protect interstate travel for abortions and access to drugs that end the lives of preborn children.
- Biden signed an executive order July 8 that included directives calling for expanded safeguards for access to medical/chemical abortions, the establishment of an interagency task force to coordinate protections for abortion access and the assembling of volunteer lawyers to represent women and abortion providers.
- The administration established a new website that helps women find abortion providers and obtain funds to pay for such procedures.
- The president urged Congress to codify Roe into law even if it calls for an exception to the Senate’s filibuster rule, which requires 60 votes to end debate and take floor action on legislation.
- The Department of Justice (DOJ) established July 12 the Reproductive Rights Task Force, which will monitor state and local legislation that restricts abortion and will synchronize legal actions and other federal responses.
- The Department of Health and Human Services sent guidelines July 13 to remind about 60,000 pharmacies they are obligated under federal law to provide access to reproductive health care, which includes abortion drugs.