Kamala Harris hammers Republican ‘extremists’ who ‘don’t know or don’t care how a woman’s body works’

The vice president, speaking in Florida, accused Donald Trump of ‘gaslighting’ the country because of his changing positions on abortion

John Bowden
Washington DC
Wednesday 01 May 2024 22:10 BST
Harris hammers Republican ‘extremists’ who ‘don’t know how a woman’s body works’

Vice President Kamala Harris went on the offensive against Donald Trump and Republican architects of abortion restrictions across the US at a campaign stop in Jacksonville, Florida on Wednesday.

An enthusiastic crowd chanted “Four more years” as Harris said that the former president and his allies are responsible for endangering women’s lives in a fiery speech. The current VP spoke at an event attended by local Democrats including Jacksonville’s mayor Donna Deegan and Nikki Fried, the chair of the state Democratic Party.

Harris’s planned remarks mentioned Donald Trump 18 times — an all-time high.

Her visit was coordinated to occur the same day Florida saw a six-week ban on abortion take effect. Passed by a Republican state legislature and signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis last year, the ban puts Florida’s restrictions on reproductive in line with many other states across the Deep South. Neighboring Alabama also saw a court decision briefly endanger the legality of IVF treatments earlier this year.

Harris’s event in Jacksonville was picketed by a handful of anti-abortion protesters including members of Students for Life Action (SFLA).

“Starting this morning, women in Florida became subject to an abortion ban so extreme it applies before many women even know they are pregnant — which, by the way, tells us the extremists who wrote this ban either don’t know how a women’s body works, or simply don’t care,” the vice president said.

“Across our nation, we witness a full-on assault, state by state, on reproductive freedom. And understand who is to blame: former president Donald Trump did this,” she went on, adding: “This truly is a healthcare crisis. And Donald Trump is the architect.”

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks in Florida on 1 May, the day the state’s new six-week abortion ban took effect
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks in Florida on 1 May, the day the state’s new six-week abortion ban took effect (Getty Images)

Harris went on to reject the heel-turn Trump has done on abortion rights recently, including when he asserted in a press gaggle last month that he would not sign a federal abortion ban into law were one to be passed by a Republican House and Senate.

Arguing that Trump “promised to sign” an abortion ban were one to reach his desk in remarks back in 2017, Harris said that Trump was trying to “gaslight” Americans about his position.

“Trump wants us to believe he will not sign a national [abortion] ban. Well, I say enough with the gaslighting,” she said.

The vice president’s speech in Florida comes as the Biden campaign appears to be leaning heavily into a reproductive right-centered message in the state. The state rarely votes Democrat, but this year Biden is treating it as winnable territory — a decision that will put Republicans in purple districts on the defensive and possibly even force the Trump campaign to spend money on crisis messaging.

President Joe Biden traveled to Florida on 23 April to campaign against GOP-led abortion restrictions alongside Democrats in the state
President Joe Biden traveled to Florida on 23 April to campaign against GOP-led abortion restrictions alongside Democrats in the state (Getty Images)

Harris’s visit follows President Joe Biden’s last month. Standing in front of a banner reading “Reproductive Freedom”, Biden brought up the fact that Trump is currently selling a copy of the Bible which also includes the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence in his official merchandise store.

“He said there has to be punishment for women exercising their reproductive freedom ...Maybe it’s coming from that bible he’s trying to sell. I almost wanted to buy one just to see what the hell is in it,” Biden said during his speech in April.

Beginning today, women in Florida past six weeks’ gestation will have to travel more than 600 miles to reach a state that allows abortion care later in the pregnancy. Because six weeks of pregnancy means just two weeks after a missed period, many women do not even realize they are pregnant until they have passed this limit.

A study from the University of California San Francisco in 2021 found that as many as a third of US women do not know they are pregnant until six weeks or later into the gestational process.

Opponents of far-right efforts to restrict abortion care argue that the laws make doctors skittish about treating pregnant women and lead to patients being turned away when they face life-threatening complications.

International studies have shown that restricting abortion does not make number of abortions go down; however, it does mean that much more dangerous methods of abortion are generally used.

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