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Harris, Democrats aim at Trump on abortion ruling anniversary

Published 06/24/2024, 05:01 AM
Updated 06/25/2024, 04:32 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People protest in the district of Republican State Representative Matt Gress after Arizona's Supreme Court revived a law dating back to 1864 that bans abortion in virtually all instances, in Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S. April 14, 2024. REUTERS/Re

By Nandita Bose

COLLEGE PARK, Maryland (Reuters) -President Joe Biden's campaign used the second anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision overturning abortion rights on Monday to spotlight Donald Trump's role in the ruling, as Democrats zero in on the issue ahead of the November election.

Vice President Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor, said Trump, the Republican former president seeking reelection, was "guilty" of taking away reproductive rights from women. First Lady Jill Biden and other Democrats speaking on Monday also tried to mobilize volunteers and voters around protecting the patchwork remains of abortion access.

"Donald Trump is the sole person responsible for this nightmare," the president said in a statement.

He said the reversal two years ago of the landmark Roe v Wade ruling of 1973, which gave constitutional protection to abortion rights, has been "devastating."

"This is a fight for freedom: the fundamental freedom of a woman to make decisions about her own body and not having her government tell her what to do," Harris said at a campaign event in Maryland.

Trump appointed three conservative Supreme Court justices during his 2017-21 presidency, leading to a change in the court's balance that sparked the abortion ruling in 2022.

Harris called the plan to overturn Roe v Wade "premeditated."

"In the case of the stealing of reproductive freedom from the women of America, Donald Trump is guilty," she said.

Since the 2022 ruling, more than 20 Republican-led states have imposed restrictions on abortion, while the unpopularity of the decision even in some conservative states made it a political liability for Republicans during mid-term elections in 2022.

Abortion access is now almost non-existent in Southern states, forcing tens of thousands of women to cross state lines for abortions, and sparking a rise in medication abortion.

    Biden's team believes the issue could swing the tight Nov. 5 election his way. He will focus on getting a law passed that restores the rights of Roe v Wade if re-elected, White House gender policy council chair Jennifer Klein told reporters Monday.

Trump said in April that abortion laws should be set by individual U.S. states, stepping away from a national abortion ban that anti-abortion groups and some parts of his Republican Party have pushed for.

   On Saturday, Trump addressed a crowd of evangelical voters at the Faith & Freedom Coalition in Washington. "We have also achieved what the pro-life movement fought to get for 49 years, and we've gotten abortion out of the federal government and back to the states," he said.

Some Republican lawmakers have introduced a resolution in the U.S. Congress celebrating the 2022 ruling, although it is unlikely to be voted on in a Senate controlled by Democrats.

Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, attacked the Biden administration on Monday for ignoring "the mother and her unborn child" and for vilifying "efforts by the pro-life movement to protect the most innocent among us."

TARGETING TRUMP

Jill Biden traveled to Pittsburgh and to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a city that Trump won by 15 points in the 2020 election, when he lost the presidency to Biden. Biden, however, won the state of Pennsylvania.

Harris appealed to Latino women at an event in the swing state of Arizona on Monday, saying that "40% of Latinas of reproductive age live in states with an abortion ban."

In May, Arizona lawmakers voted to repeal the state's 1864 ban on abortion after Republicans worried about the political backlash that could be prompted by supporting a near-total abortion ban.

The vice president also continued attacking Trump at the event for his role in picking the Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe, saying it left young women with fewer reproductive rights than their mothers.

On the other side of the divide, anti-abortion activists traveled to Washington over the weekend to celebrate the Supreme Court decision.

Four years ago, Biden rarely mentioned abortion rights in his election campaign, fearing the issue could alienate moderate voters.

Now it is a key pillar of his re-election bid.

Biden and Trump remain tied in national polls less than five months before the election, while Trump has the edge in the battleground states that will decide it, polls conducted after Trump's felony convictions show.

On economic issues like inflation, Trump scores higher with voters overall than Biden.

© Reuters. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris greets her audience before discussing reproductive rights on the second anniversary of Roe v. Wade being overturned, in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. June 24, 2024.  REUTERS/Rebecca Noble

    But polls and the results of state ballot initiatives have shown that a large majority of voters reject strict abortion bans.

Biden and Trump will debate on June 27, for the first time this election campaign cycle.

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