“This is a serious matter,” Harris said of the high court’s elimination last month of the federal constitutional right to an abortion. “And it requires all of us to speak up, to speak out, and to be active.”
“The statement has been made that the government has a right to come in your home and tell you as a woman and as a family what you should do with your body,” Harris said.
“We have to recognize we’re a nation that was founded on certain principles that are … grounded in the concept of freedom and liberty,” she said.
“We also know we’ve had a history in this country of government trying to claim ownership over human bodies, and we had supposedly evolved from that time and that way of thinking,” the vice president added. “So this is very problematic on so many levels; the impact that it is going to have on women without means.”
Women who were denied an abortion, meanwhile, had higher rates of poverty, higher unemployment and greater need for government assistance. This, in turn, affects the economic well-being and prospects of their children, according to economists.
Harris channeled a spirit of hope at the event and touted her work on maternal health while acknowledging more has to be done, especially for Black women.
“Don’t be overwhelmed to the point that we are disheartened, and we think that we can’t do anything about it. It’s the nature of it that these gains will not be permanent, so we must be vigilant, and we must … remember we are always going to have to fight to maintain these rights,” Harris said.
During the fireside discussion, Harris commended young leaders and urged their peers to volunteer, make their voices heard on issues they care about with people in their lives and build coalitions.
“There is power in knowing that the vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us. See, the people who are trying to attack our rights are trying to make people feel small and feel alone,” Harris said, adding: “Because they want you to believe you don’t have power and that you’re out there by yourself.”