By Lauren Rearick
On Tuesday, May 28, Senator Kamala Harris unveiled her plan to protect people’s reproductive rights and autonomy by way of what she’s calling the Reproductive Rights Act. The Senator, who is currently running to earn the nomination for the Democratic party’s 2020 presidential candidate, unveiled the plan during a MSNBC Town Hall.
As CBS notes, her act would specifically target locations that “have a history of passing legislation that is designed to prevent or limit” someone’s access to reproductive healthcare, such as states with restrictive TRAP laws that aim to limit how much care physicians can offer their patients, and the ways in which they must administer that care. If the RRA were to become law, areas that passed anti-abortion measures within the last 25 years would be unable to pass or enact new anti-abortion laws without the prior approval of the Department of Justice; per BuzzFeed, this is directly counter to the way in which organizations are tasked with proving that legislation is unconstitutional after it has been signed into law.
The plan comes as lawmakers continue to introduce an increasing number of anti-abortion measures that directly challenge the precedent set by Roe V. Wade, a 1973 ruling from the United States Supreme Court that gave someone the constitutional right to choose abortion. Lawmakers in states like Alabama and Ohio have already passed anti-abortion measures in 2019, while other lawmakers in South Carolina, Maryland, and Louisiana are reportedly considering similar legislation; Planned Parenthood observed a 63 percent increase in the introduction of anti-abortion laws in the United States since 2018.
At the town hall, Harris said it’s clear that the “ability to have access to reproductive health is under attack in America.” She asked for politicians and voters to consider what implications anti-abortion laws might have, and pointed to “back-alley” abortions that occurred before the passage of Roe vs. Wade as proof that conservative lawmakers will never be able to eradicate abortion entirely; their laws would simply make abortions more difficult and dangerous to obtain.
“The government should not be in the business of taking those decisions away,” she added.
Harris has advocated against anti-abortion measures throughout her time in the Senate. Her announcement comes after she unveiled a plan to possibly close the gender wage gap, announced a potential ban on AR-15 style weapons, and shared her idea to simplify the student loan process.
Other Democratic hopefuls have expressed similar support for abortion rights; if elected president, Senator Cory Booker intends to create an office in the White House that would examine ways to protect abortion rights and reproductive health. All but two Democratic hopefuls (Mayor Bill de Blasio and Representative Tulsi Gabbard) confirmed support of codifying Roe vs. Wade, an action that would allow the ruling to become and stay law throughout federal courts, even if the Supreme Court decided to overturn its 1973 ruling.