On Tuesday, Vice President Kamala Harris spoke out against the Supreme Court’s pending decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, calling the leaked decision draft a “direct assault on freedom.”
At a gala hosted by Emily’s List, a political action committee that raises funds to elect Democratic, pro-choice women into office, Harris responded to the recent news of the leaked Supreme Court documents revealing that the nation’s highest court had voted to strike down the historic Roe v. Wade decision.
Harris addressed attendees, saying, “Some Republican leaders are trying to weaponize the use of the law against women. How dare they? How dare they tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body?”
The Supreme Court’s 1973 landmark decision on Roe v. Wade guaranteed the legal right to access abortion nationwide. The current renouncement of the decision would overturn nearly half a century’s rulings on reproductive rights.
The documents were confirmed to be authentic the morning of the Emily’s List gala.
Harris, who had been scheduled to speak at the gala before the documents were leaked, reportedly revised her speech multiple times on Tuesday to take into account the new developments as public interest in the event ballooned.
Harris described the importance of the moment, saying, “Roe protects the right to access abortion. It also protects a woman’s right to make decisions about what she does with her own body.”
“So to the friends, I say, we’ve always been clear, but today we know our purpose. We know, also, what we are up against. We have been on the frontlines of this fight for many years, all of us in this together,” she added. “And now, we enter a new phase. There is nothing hypothetical about this moment. Let me be clear, this fight requires the work of this very organization, Emily’s List, to elect pro choice Democrats to Congress.”
Democratic leaders across the country, such as Rep. Christina Haswood (D, KS-10), shared Harris’s outrage. “I am pissed, I am furious. I am still trying to get my emotions right and how to direct this,” she said.
The leaked Supreme Court majority opinion, written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, shows an outright renouncement of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that guaranteed federal protections of abortion rights.
“‘Roe’ was egregiously wrong from the start … It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” Alito writes.
Abortion was widely practiced and legal prior to the mid-1800s. It was only after the Civil War that legislation began to be put in place to control the bodies and reproductive rights of formerly enslaved Black women.
By 1910, abortions were completely banned nationwide, although wealthy white women found ways to continue accessing abortions. It was not until the 1960s when advocates for abortion rights began pressuring for law reform.