Kamala Harris heads to Arizona after abortion ban

By Thomson Reuters Apr 12, 2024 | 4:02 AM

By Trevor Hunnicutt

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris travels on Friday to Arizona, three days after a court there upheld a 160-year-old abortion ban, igniting a charged issue in one of 2024’s most competitive election states.

Arizona’s conservative Supreme Court sent a shockwave through the narrowly divided state that could swing the presidential race and determine control of the Senate.

Strategists in both parties said the ruling, which outlaws nearly all abortions, would push even Republican-leaning moderates toward Democrats, while also animating young voters and voters of color.

U.S. President Joe Biden has tasked Harris, a former prosecutor and senator, with leading the administration’s reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling overturning Roe v. Wade abortion rights and with reaching core liberal voters undecided on a second, four-year term for the president.

Biden beat Republican opponent Donald Trump in Arizona by fewer than 11,000 votes out of 3.3 million ballots cast in 2020, the Democrat’s narrowest margin of victory in any state.

Democrats think restrictions on reproductive rights can help them secure another victory in the border state where voters had been more focused on cost-of-living issues and immigration.

“We all must understand who is to blame: It is the former president, Donald Trump,” Harris will say in Tucson before reproductive health patients and providers, according to excerpts from a campaign official.

“Here’s what a second Trump term looks like: more bans, more suffering, less freedom. But we are not going to let that happen.”

Harris visited Phoenix, Arizona’s capital, just last month to talk about abortion rights as part of a “Fight for Reproductive Freedoms” tour that has taken her to 20 states and included a visit to a Minnesota health clinic that offers abortion services.

Trump, set to face Biden again in November’s election, has distanced himself from the Arizona ruling. On Wednesday, he said the court had gone too far in reviving a near-total abortion ban, even while defending the Supreme Court decision that permitted states to restrict abortion.

“President Trump could not have been more clear. These are decisions for people of each state to make,” said Karoline Leavitt, a Trump campaign spokesperson.

The Biden campaign has aired an advertisement in Arizona in which a Texas woman tearfully describes almost dying after she was denied an abortion following a miscarriage. Across a black screen, the words “Donald Trump did this” flash as her sobs continue in the background.

Asked at the White House on Wednesday what he would say to the people of Arizona, Biden replied, “Elect me.”

Biden ran on legalizing abortion but Democrats did not deliver him such a bill when they controlled Congress by slim margins from 2021-2023.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Don Durfee and Diane Craft)