By Nandita Bose
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with a group of seven Democratic attorneys general on Thursday, a White House official said, to discuss defending a major ruling that could significantly curtail the right to abortion in the country.
The conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling in the coming days to overturn Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed the right to an abortion — potentially paving the way for about half of the 50 U.S. states banning or heavily restricting the procedure. .
The White House meeting offers a glimpse of the preparations underway before the decision is made and ahead of the state-level abortion battles that are expected to unfold. The meeting will bring together attorneys general from Wisconsin, Nevada, Illinois, California, Delaware, New York and Washington state, the official, who did not wish to be identified, told Reuters. .
State attorneys general have significant influence over their state’s rules, and Democratic attorneys general have pledged to hold the line if Roe falls. They are expected to have unprecedented influence on the future of abortion access and will form the Biden administration’s first line of defense fighting to preserve abortion rights at the state level.
“She (Harris) will amplify the actions they take as role models for other states,” the official said.
For example, in Washington State, Attorney General Bob Ferguson has called on state medical licensing authorities to publicly state that they will not restrict health care providers from practicing in the state. only because they performed abortions in states where it has become illegal.
In Delaware, Attorney General Kathleen Jennings sued to stop a city from requiring an abortion clinic to hold burials for fetal remains at the patient’s expense.
The Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) is preparing to spend millions electing candidates who support abortion rights, including in Republican-led states that are likely to ban nearly all abortions if Roe is overthrown.
In May, a draft notice indicating that the court is about to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade was leaked. https://reut.rs/39NTwlQ
As the court moves closer to a final decision on the case, expected in late June, Harris has leaned into the matter aggressively. She was one of the most outspoken voices for abortion rights in the Biden administration — a subject that remains complicated for President Biden.
Biden, a lifelong Catholic, opposed Roe early in his career and only later embraced abortion rights. He made strong comments after the draft advisory was released, but until then he had never said the word “abortion” out loud as president.
On Wednesday, Harris convened a meeting with a diverse group of stakeholders on the issue of abortion rights, which included patients and healthcare providers, reproductive rights advocates, religious leaders, constitutional experts and of privacy.
“We have to be ready to form a united front when this decision is made,” Harris said. “Part of what we will do as a coalition is to clarify … how Roe will impact privacy rights at all levels.”
(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; editing by Richard Pullin)