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Vice President Kamala Harris in Richmond

Posted at 12:13 PM, Jul 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-24 11:54:51-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Vice President Kamala Harris visited Henrico County, Virginia on Saturday.

The vice president met with "state legislators and leaders to discuss the fight to protect reproductive rights," according to a statement from her office.

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United States Vice President Kamala Harris visits Richmond, Virginia to dicscuss reproductive rights and abortion access with Virginia lawmakers. Photo by Enza Marcy.

Her visit comes weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe versus Wade, which removed Constitutional protections that gave women the right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.

Instead, state lawmakers can decide the legality of abortion in their individual states.

Governor Glenn Youngkin (R-Virginia) said he planned to push Virginia lawmakers to outlaw abortions once a woman reaches the 15-week mark of her pregnancy.

Youngkin told the Washington Post that although he favored banning most abortions after 15 weeks, a cutoff at 20 weeks might be necessary to build consensus in the divided Virginia legislature. He reiterated his support for exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at risk.

"The Supreme Court of the United States has rightfully returned power to the people and their elected representatives in the states. I'm proud to be a pro-life Governor and plan to take every action I can to protect life," Youngkin said in a statement following the Supreme Court ruling.

"Only weeks ago the United States Supreme Court took a constitutional right that had been recognized from the American people... in particular from the women of America," Harris said. ”I’ve read that [Youngkin] says he will gleefully sign a law to take away reproductive rights. So I would also like to be clear that I am fully aware of the context in which we meet in terms of what this will mean for the people of Virginia and what is at stake directly."

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United States Vice President Kamala Harris visits Richmond, Virginia to dicscuss reproductive rights and abortion access with Virginia lawmakers. Photo by Enza Marcy.

In response to the topic of her visit, a spokesperson for the governor offered this comment.

“Governor Youngkin has tasked four legislators to bring together key stakeholders and find areas where Virginians can agree and chart the most successful path forward. The governor welcomes discussion and bipartisan collaboration, making it known that he would support a 15-week proposal. While the governor appreciates the Vice President’s visit, he will continue to engage with Virginians and legislators on this important matter," a spokesperson for Youngkin wrote. spokesperson.

It is a topic State Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) feels should be left up to states to decide.

“She's got plenty to do between now and January. And I invite her to talk about those issues that are most important to Virginians right now. And that's inflation,” Chase said.

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United States Vice President Kamala Harris visits Richmond, Virginia to dicscuss reproductive rights and abortion access with Virginia lawmakers. Photo by Enza Marcy.

Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), who was instrumental in passing the Reproductive Health Protection Act in Virginia in 2020, said she was outraged by the Supreme Court ruling.

"It's the first time in my life that rights were taken away by the Supreme Court," she said. "As someone who's fought to make Virginia a safe haven for access to abortion, that fight's coming back to the states, and I'm ready to keep fighting."

In regard to changing filibuster rules in the senate to ensure certain abortion rights, Rep. Donald McEachin, who represents Virginia’s 4th Congressional District, expressed why he felt it was important to adjust when necessary.

"You don't want to do away with it, fine, but the least we can do is say the filibuster rule shall not apply when we are talking about a person's civil rights," McEachin said.

Harris said she and the president "could not agree more."

"Joe Biden has been very clear that he will not let the filibuster stand in the way on the issue of women's health," Harris said. "You don't have to abandon your faith or your beliefs to agree that the government should not be making that decision for that woman."

Abortion remains legal in Virginia and the next time that would be possible to change is at the next Virginia General Assembly session in January 2023.

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