(NEW YORK) — Vice President Kamala Harris called out leaders in several states who she says have been diminishing the reproductive rights of women after last year’s Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, but she expressed some hope that the American public will push back.
Harris sat down with ABC News Live Prime anchor Linsey Davis for an interview while visiting Iowa Friday where she spoke about the six-week abortion ban that the state’s Republican governor recently signed into law, currently blocked by an Iowa judge.
Fifteen states have ceased nearly all abortion services.
Harris said she was concerned about what was going on in the country and criticized the state leaders for, she says, undermining women’s health with these restrictions.
“There’s something underlying this approach that states like Iowa have taken that really suggests that they’re– that they don’t trust women to be able to know what’s in their best interests and make the decision accordingly,” the vice president said.
Harris said that restrictions on reproductive health services have led to serious medical emergencies for millions of American women. She noted the anecdote of a woman who suffered a miscarriage and was rejected by an emergency room due to her state’s abortion laws.
“She went to the emergency room while she was having a miscarriage, denied care. She went back, denied care. Only when she contracted sepsis did they give her care. So this is what’s happening in real time in our country,” Harris said.
“I think on this issue, it is critically important that we understand this is not some intellectual debate,” she added. “Every day in America, there are people suffering, silently suffering in many cases.”
Republican leaders, like Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, have touted their restrictive laws as they implement the Supreme Court’s decision.
“We have a responsibility not only to protect the unborn in law, but to change the destructive culture of abortion that still exists in a post-Roe world,” Reynolds said at the signing of the state’s six-week abortion ban two weeks ago.
However, Harris noted that the American people have pushed back at the ballot box since the Supreme Court decision, voting against the restrictions and leaders who support them.
“So I am concerned about what’s been happening, but I also have faith in the people of America,” she said.
Harris encouraged Americans to get out and vote if they are concerned about more reproductive health restrictions and said she has hope that the previous protections on abortions can be restored.
“Congress has the ability to put back in place the protections that the Supreme Court took away,” she said. “And President Joe Biden has been very clear, when that happens, he will sign it.”
Harris, the first female Black and South Asian vice president, once again criticized controversial Black history standards unanimously approved by Florida’s board of education. Among the changes approved was a section of “benchmark clarifications,” and among those was one that states “instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
Harris said that notion was “ridiculous” and reiterated there should be no “ideological debate” over the truth about slavery in this country.
“I think that this is just a matter of whether one chooses to speak fact and truth or not,” Harris said. “I don’t think that this is subject to any ideological debate to say that people who are enslaved do not benefit from slavery, period.”
“There are so-called leaders, extremists, who are attempting to require in our nation an unnecessary debate, with the intention, I believe, to try and divide us as Americans. Stop. Stop,” she added.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has called Harris’ criticism of the proposed curriculum “outrageous,” and has defended the instruction despite distancing himself from it.
“I wasn’t involved in it,” he said last week. “But I think what they’re doing is, I think that they’re probably going to show some of the folks that eventually parlayed being a blacksmith into doing things later in life. But the reality is, all of that is rooted in whatever is factual,” adding, “These were scholars that put that together. It was not anything that was done politically.”
DeSantis doubled down on his pushback on Friday at the Lincoln Dinner in Iowa and accused Harris of “coming down to Florida trying to create a phony narrative.”
Harris also slammed Republican leaders this month over the ongoing migrant crisis and called the policies of some governors shipping migrants by the busload to other cities and states “inhumane, outrageous and un-American.”
She reiterated her criticism noting that these families have already suffered hardships in their home countries and during their travels north.
“Human beings should not be treated as pawns in a political game,” she said.
“One very clear solution, a very significant solution has been in front of us for years now. We need to pass immigration reform,” Harris added.
Watch Linsey Davis’ full interview with Vice President Kamala Harris on ABC News Live Prime, Monday, July 31, at 7 p.m. ET.
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