Election 2024 Harris

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at Planned Parenthood in St. Paul, Minn., on Thursday. Adam Bettcher/Associated Press

Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Minnesota on Thursday to visit a Planned Parenthood health center that provides abortions in what is believed to be the first time an American president or vice president has toured such a facility while in office.

Her visit underscores the emphasis that Democrats are placing this election year on abortion access, an issue they believe heavily plays to their advantage.

Harris, the first female vice president, has become a leading voice on reproductive rights for the Biden administration since the Supreme Court’s decision in June 2022 to overturn Roe v. Wade. Her visit to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area is part of a multistate tour on the heels of President Biden’s State of the Union address last week.

Harris arrived at the St. Paul facility Thursday afternoon, where she was greeted by Sarah Traxler, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood North Central States, and embarked on a tour. She was joined on the tour by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, both Democrats.

There were about two dozen anti-abortion demonstrators who stood outside the health center when Harris arrived, and while the vice president was touring the facility, it remained open for patients to be treated, according to the media pool.

After the tour, Harris told reporters she had met with about “two dozen health care workers who … really care about their patients.” She said she saw “people who have dedicated their lives to the profession of providing health care in a safe place that gives people dignity. And I think we should all want that for each other.”


Harris also said that, in the wake of the decision to overturn Roe, there has been a “health care crisis” that included the shutdown of clinics across the country that provide reproductive health care, including abortions.

The situation, she said, has left “no options within a reasonable geographic area for so many women who need this essential care” at these clinics, which provide an array of reproductive services beyond abortions, such as cancer screenings and access to birth control.

Since the Supreme Court’s decision and abortion restrictions in several states that have followed, Minnesota – a state where there is broad access to abortion – has experienced a surge of patients from out of state seeking abortions. Last year, Walz signed a bill that enshrined abortion and other reproductive health care rights into Minnesota law.

Harris said Thursday that elections are “what has led to ensuring that these fundamental rights are intact” in states such as Minnesota.

Jessica Mackler, president of Emily’s List, a national political group that supports abortion rights, said in a statement that by touring the clinic in Minnesota, Harris was “using her own power and status to shine the light on issues that need to be addressed, and this history-making visit will keep the issue of abortion rights and access in the forefront, where it should be.”

While the Biden administration has largely reached the limits of its authority to protect abortion access, Democrats, including Biden and Harris, are putting access to reproductive care front and center in an election year.


It’s an issue that has been broadly successful for the party in elections since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe. And it’s also something that remains on the minds of voters. Polling this month from KFF found that 1 in 8 voters now say that abortion is the most important issue for their vote in the 2024 elections.

Biden last month criticized former President Donald Trump for wanting to “rip away” rights. In January, he took part in White House and campaign events focused on reproductive health care. The Biden campaign also released a one-minute ad featuring a woman who was forced to leave Texas to end her planned pregnancy when her fetus was diagnosed with a fatal condition.

At last week’s State of the Union address, Biden and Democrats again sought to make reproductive health care access a top priority.

First lady Jill Biden and congressional Democrats invited several guests whose lives have been affected by restrictions on reproductive health care. In his speech, the president never used the word “abortion,” but he vowed to protect reproductive freedoms and acknowledged the political reality of abortion rights.

“Those bragging about overturning Roe v. Wade have no clue about the power of women,” Biden said, in an apparent reference to Trump, his 2024 Republican rival. “But they found out when reproductive freedom was on the ballot and we won in 2022 and 2023. And we’ll win again in 2024.”

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