California Sen. Kamala Harris said Tuesday it was outrageous that organizers of the 2020 presidential debates had devoted almost no time to discussing Republican efforts to roll back abortion rights.
“There are states that have passed laws that will virtually prevent women from having access to reproductive healthcare,” she said at the CNN/New York Times debate in Westerville, Ohio. “And it is not an exaggeration to say women will die. Poor women, women of color will die because these Republican legislatures in these various states who are out of touch with America are telling women what to do with their bodies.”
Harris hadn’t been asked about abortion. But when her turn came to respond to comments by other candidates on healthcare, she raised her voice in protest. The crowd cheered Harris several times.
“People need to keep their hands off of women’s bodies and let women make the decisions about their own lives,” she said.
Not to be outdone, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker took up the cause.
“God bless Kamala. But you know what? Women should not be the only ones taking up this cause and this fight,” Booker said. “It is not just because women are our voters and our friends and our wives. It’s because women are people and people deserve to control their own body.”
Asked later how she would protect abortion rights as states restrict access or impose penalties on women who get the procedure after a set number of weeks, Harris said she’d have the Justice Department review such laws to ensure they are legal before they can take effect.
“This is still a fundamental issue of justice for women in America,” Harris said, saying no one has the right to make reproductive health decisions for women. “It is her body, it her right, it is her decision.”