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Vice President Harris will visit a Minnesota clinic that performs abortions

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday plans to tour a Minnesota clinic that performs abortions and provides other reproductive care, as Democrats play up their opposition to the rollback of abortion rights in an effort to help reelect President Joe Biden in November.

It will be the first time that a president or vice president has been to a reproductive health clinic, according to Harris’ office.

Her trip to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area is part of a nationwide tour she began in January to draw attention to the fallout after the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority in 2022 overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. The decision cleared the way for Republican-led states to enact limitations or bans on the procedure.

Harris, the first woman elected vice president, has been the Democratic administration’s loudest voice condemning the court’s decision, arguing that the government has no right to tell a woman what she can do with her body. While Biden has vowed to be the president who restores the protections of Roe, he tends to talk about the “right to choose” instead of saying “abortion.”

Abortion rights have proved to be a potent issue driving voters to the polls and boosting Democrats ever since the high court ended the constitutional right to the procedure nearly two years ago. The issue could be pivotal in the presidential race and congressional contests this year.

In Minnesota, the vice president planned to visit a health center during operating hours. Her office declined to identify the facility before she arrives there, citing security reasons. The center provides a range of services, including abortion, birth control and preventative wellness services.

Harris was scheduled to tour the facility, speak with staff and be briefed on how Minnesota has been affected by abortion bans in surrounding states. Her office said she’ll talk about how the Biden administration has worked to protect reproductive rights.

There are no restrictions on abortion at any stage of pregnancy in Minnesota. Biden won the state by 7 percentage points in 2020 on the way to defeating then-President Donald Trump, a Republican.

Biden and Trump each have now won enough delegates to be considered their parties’ presumptive nominees for president, setting up a rematch in November.

Biden and his Democratic surrogates have been highlighting comments by Trump in which the former president takes credit for presiding over the end of Roe. Trump put three conservative justices on the high court, tipping its ideological balance in favor of eliminating a woman’s constitutional right to end a pregnancy with its 2022 decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Since then, Democrats have felt encouraged by electoral victories in 2022 and 2023 when abortion access was on the ballot. And in his State of the Union address last week, Biden vowed that “we’ll win again in 2024.”

In the speech, he also said that if voters “send me a Congress that supports the right to choose, I promise you I will restore Roe v. Wade as the law of the land again.”

In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz enshrined the right to abortion and other reproductive health care into state law in January 2023 when he signed a bill meant to ensure that the state’s existing protections remain in place no matter who sits on future courts.

Democratic leaders took advantage of their new control of both houses of the Legislature to rush the bill through in the first month of the 2023 legislative session. They credited the backlash against the U.S. Supreme Court decision to reverse Roe v. Wade for their takeover of the state Senate and for keeping their House majority in a year when Republicans expected to make gains.

Abortion is currently illegal in more than a dozen states, including Minnesota neighbors North Dakota and South Dakota. Minnesota has experienced a surge of patients coming to the state for abortions because of restrictions elsewhere.

Darlene Superville, The Associated Press


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