'How dare they?': Vice President Harris calls for federal abortion protections in Charlotte speech
Vice President Kamala Harris condemned Republican efforts to restrict abortion access and called on Congress to restore federal reproductive freedoms in Charlotte's Grady Cole Center on Saturday.
Her visit came on the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, and one week before North Carolina's new law banning most abortions after 12 weeks takes effect.
And the visit likely offers a window into Democrats' strategy for swing states in 2024, highlighting abortion to engage their base and turn out voters.
In prepared remarks, Harris recalled the day the Supreme Court issued its ruling overturning Roe and said she was on her way to a maternal health event in Illinois when she heard the news.
Harris said she called her husband, "because there were a collection of words that were coming to mind that would not have been proper for me to speak with some other people."
Later, after talking with her husband, she said "the three words that came to me that I publicly spoke were 'How dare they.' How dare they attack basic health care? How dare they attack our fundamental rights? How dare they attack our freedom?"
Harris said the decision created "chaos, confusion and fear" for women in the U.S. over the last year.
More than a dozen states have banned nearly all abortions — the majority with no exceptions for rape or incest — since the overturning of Roe. Bans in eight states have been blocked by courts.
Harris called on Congress to enact federal protections for reproductive rights, and for more initiatives aimed at helping families and pregnant women, such as national family and parental paid leave and more affordable child care.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, also spoke, condemning Republicans in the General Assembly who overrode his veto of a 12-week abortion ban now slated to take effect on July 1.
"They passed a bill with no amendments and with no input faster than the 72-hour waiting period they imposed on women before an abortion," Cooper said.
Other speakers at Saturday's rally included Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein, who is running for North Carolina governor. Cooper, who is term-limited, cannot run for another term.
After the event, a small crowd gathered outside to wave at the vice president's motorcade as it drove off to the Charlotte airport.
Among them was 18-year-old Emily Morrow, who attended the event with her mother and aunt, and said she strongly supported abortion rights.
"My whole life is starting out, and if I get pregnant, I don't want to have to give up everything," she said.
A schoolteacher who only gave her first name, Jamie, out of fear she could be reprimanded for speaking out, said had been marching for reproductive rights since the 1980s.
"I'm really tired of fighting for this stuff," she said, "I've got an adult daughter, I've got a granddaughter now, and their health care decisions should be made between them and their doctor."
She said she and others would start offering to drive people to Virginia for abortion care, as North Carolina's new 12-week abortion ban takes effect.