BIG BEND, Wis. — Vice President Kamala Harris kicked off her nationwide “Fight for Reproductive Freedoms” tour Monday in Waukesha County, where she bolstered abortion rights and demanded federal lawmakers restore Roe v. Wade as part of President Joe Biden’s reelection effort.
“This is in fact a healthcare crisis,” Harris said, energizing whistles and applause from the interactive audience.
Harris’ visit fell on the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared abortion a constitutional right. Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson. She focused on the impact of Roe’s elimination in Wisconsin, which caused reproductive care clinics to close and forced hospitals to turn women away from services.
“These extremists want to roll back the clock to a time before women were treated as full citizens — to the 1800s. Just look at what happened here in Wisconsin,” Harris said.
Harris said Biden would veto any national abortion ban passed by Congress.
Ahead of the event, a small group of pro-Palestine protesters held up signs in opposition to the Biden administration’s management of the Israel-Hamas war.
Harris denounces GOP-controlled abortion bans
Abortion became a hotbed debate nationwide after Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022. Services were unavailable in Wisconsin for 15 months.
Opposition to abortion restrictions played a critical role in Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiweciz’s victory last April, which gave liberal justices a Democratic majority.
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin resumed abortion services in Madison, Milwaukee and Sheboygan after a lower state court ruled an 1849 Wisconsin law on feticide does not prohibit consensual abortion care.
Harris criticized Republicans' planned Monday hearing of a bill that would hold a statewide referendum on whether abortions in Wisconsin should be banned after 14 weeks. She also said that if Congress passes a national abortion ban, Biden will veto it.
“Tens of millions of Americans in red states and blue, including here in Wisconsin, marched to polls in defense of fundamental freedom,” Harris said.
Additionally, she condemned former President Donald Trump’s decision to appoint U.S. Supreme Court Justices who overturned Roe v. Wade.
“Women have been robbed of the fundamental freedom that doctors could be thrown in prison for caring for their patients, that young women today have fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers,” Harris said. “How dare he?”
Wisconsin officials including U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore and Lt. Gov. Sara Rodriguez joined Harris for her visit. Baldwin, Planned Parenthood’s Water Street Clinic Manager Naomi Jackson and Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness CEO Lisa M. Peyton called for the restoration of Roe prior to Harris’ speech.
The Biden administration has made numerous visits to Wisconsin in the past year ahead of the 2024 presidential election, where Wisconsin is expected to play a crucial role.
In August, Harris visited southeastern Wisconsin to tout the Biden administration’s broadband expansion and domestic job creation efforts.
Additionally, she launched a “Fight for Our Freedoms” college tour in September, traveling to eight states and targeting issues that impact young people including reproductive rights, climate action and LGBTQ + equality.
Biden visited Milwaukee on Dec. 20, where he met with Black voters at the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce and highlighted advancements made by the American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
First Lady Jill Biden also lauded the administration’s Cancer Moonshot initiative and met with public school educators in an Aug. 31 visit.
Rachel Hale is a senior staff writer who covers state politics and campus events. Before getting involved with The Daily Cardinal, she was a culture editor at Moda Magazine. Follow her on Twitter at @rachelleighhale.
Ava Menkes is the state news editor at The Daily Cardinal. She has covered multiple stories about Wisconsin politics and written in-depth about nurses unions and youth voter turnout. Follow her on Twitter at @AvaMenkes.