Kamala Harris seeks to rally abortion-rights backers after setbacks

Vice President Kamala Harris displays a map showing abortion access by state as she speaks during the first meeting of the interagency Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access in the Indian Treaty Room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House Campus in Washington, Aug. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Before Democrat Tina Smith ran for the Senate, she volunteered at a Planned Parenthood clinic in her home state of Minnesota where protesters would confront women as they entered.

The experience is on her mind this Sunday, the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that ensured a nationwide right to abortion until it was overturned last year.

“It feels like such an empty day,” she said.

The White House is trying to replace that sense of emptiness with outrage and resolve this weekend by demonstrating determination to restore abortion rights even though there’s little chance of progress in Washington.

Vice President Kamala Harris is headlining the effort with a speech in Florida, where Democrats fear a renewed attempt to restrict abortion by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“Can we truly be free if a woman cannot make decisions about her own body? Can we truly be free if a doctor cannot care for her patients? Can we truly be free if families cannot make intimate decisions about the course of their own lives?” Harris says in excerpts of her speech released before her appearance.

The decision for Harris to speak in Tallahassee, the state capital, reflects how the battle lines have shifted since last summer. Now that there’s no more national right to abortion, debates over the issue will play out in individual statehouses rather than in the halls of Congress or before the Supreme Court. White House officials this past week convened top lawmakers from eight states to discuss pending legislation.

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