VP Kamala Harris warns Michiganders about Trump’s threats to abortion rights

By Kyle Kaminski

February 23, 2024

Abortion is protected under the state Constitution in Michigan. But Republican-led efforts to enact a nationwide abortion ban could still jeopardize those rights, Vice President Kamala Harris cautioned Michiganders this week.

GRAND RAPIDS—Michiganders shouldn’t get too complacent about their constitutional right to abortion—because reproductive freedoms will still be decided in this year’s presidential election.

That’s the message that Vice President Kamala Harris delivered to Michigan voters at Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids on Thursday, where she joined a roundtable discussion that included Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, US Sen. Debbie Stabenow, and US Rep. Hillary Scholten.

“The people of Michigan cannot sit back and take comfort without also understanding that elections matter—and that there is a full-on, concerted effort to pass a national [abortion] ban, which would mean the people of Michigan would not be as safe,” Harris explained. 

The vice president’s visit to Michigan this week was part of a nationwide tour that’s designed to outline the stakes of the upcoming presidential election. Harris’ remarks come less than a week after new reporting revealed that ex-President Donald Trump would pursue a nationwide abortion ban if elected to another term.

‘Terrified About What Might Happen’

After the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and the nationwide constitutional right to abortion, Michiganders quickly filled the void—including passing a ballot initiative that added abortion rights to the state constitution and state legislation that expanded access to care

And with President Joe Biden in the White House, Whitmer behind the governor’s desk, and Democrats in charge of the US Senate and both chambers of the Michigan legislature, Michiganders’ reproductive rights have never been more protected than they are today. 

But if Trump and anti-abortion Republicans manage to take control of the federal government in 2025, it could lead to sweeping, nationwide restrictions on abortion—even in Michigan where those rights are protected, Harris explained this week.

“Let’s understand the connection between all of these issues and the responsibility and the role that we each have to protect these fundamental freedoms, and the people of America to be able to be able to make decisions about their own lives and the future of their family,” Harris said.

A recent story in the New York Times reported that Trump has told advisers and allies that he supports a nationwide abortion ban that would prohibit the procedure after 16 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions in cases of rape and incest and to save the life of the mother. 

The 16-week ban would serve as a ceiling, however, and still allow states to pursue stricter individual bans, such as six-week bans or outright bans. 

Republican operatives have also reportedly crafted an expansive (and literal) blueprint that lays out in detail how they intend to leverage virtually every agency of the federal government to attack abortion access—including by banning and criminalizing access to abortion medication.

At the same time, there’s a high-stakes legal battle pending before the US Supreme Court over access to abortion medication which threatens to curtail access to the drug, even in states like Michigan, where abortion still remains legal and fully protected under the state Constitution.

“Even though we have come so far in Michigan, women like me are still terrified about what might happen,” Scholten said. “That’s why every day I’m working to make sure that we have constitutional protections over these [abortion] rights and over these freedoms.”

‘What Got Us to This Point’

Since Roe was overturned, abortion has now been completely banned in 14 states with near-total bans and severe restrictions in several others. And this week, Harris wasn’t shy about putting the blame squarely on Trump, who appointed three of the justices that decided the case. 

“This is an issue that is about fundamental freedoms and liberties, and real harm that is happening everyday,” Harris said during the roundtable discussion. “How did this happen? I would say: Ask who is to blame. When you look at the fact that the previous president of the United States was clear in his intention to hand-pick three Supreme Court justices who would overturn the protections of Roe v. Wade. And he did. That’s what got us to this point today.” 

The Biden-Harris administration, on the other hand, has been vocal in its support of reproductive freedom and restoring the federal protections that were overturned by the Supreme Court in 2022. In a statement last week, Biden took Trump to task for his role in ending Roe, criticizing him for “taking away women’s freedom” and putting women’s lives in danger.

Roe v. Wade is no longer the law of the land. And that’s because of one person: Donald Trump,” Biden said. “Now, millions of women cannot access critical health care, with too many being turned away from emergency rooms. States have imposed abortion bans so restrictive that they have no exceptions for rape or incest. And doctors are being threatened with felony charges and time in prison simply for caring for their patients.”

READ MORE: Michigan protected abortion after Roe. Republicans are plotting a reversal.

For the latest Michigan news, follow The ‘Gander on Twitter.

Follow Political Correspondent Kyle Kaminski here.

Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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