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Kamala Harris holds abortion roundtable with religious leaders: 'We need faith'

Kamala Harris
US Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a meeting with members of the Democratic Texas State Senate and Texas House of Representatives in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on June 16, 2021. |

Vice President Kamala Harris held a roundtable with faith leaders about abortion and other "reproductive health" issues Monday. Her opening remarks did not include any overt mention of God.

The roundtable was held in Los Angeles, California, and centered on what the White House described as “protecting reproductive rights and addressing the epidemic of hate that is gripping our nation.”

The event comes over a month after Politico published a leaked draft opinion in the U.S. Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, indicating a majority of justices could likely vote to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. 

Faith leaders participating in the roundtable included Pastor Demetries Edwards of the 23rd Avenue Church of God in Oakland; Rabbi Dara Frimmer, head of the Temple Isaiah of Los Angeles; Sikh civil rights advocate and lawyer Nitasha Kaur Sawhney; Claire Lipschultz, vice president of the National Council of Jewish Women of Sacramento's board of directors.; the Rev. Young Lee Hertig, executive director of the Innovative Space for Asian American Christianity; and others. 

Elected Democratic officials from California, including U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, U.S. Rep. Jimmy Gomez, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, also attended the roundtable.

During her opening remarks, Harris said that “we need faith."

"We need faith in each other, in our nation and in our future," she said. 

She added that “the faith leaders who are gathered here today are representative of many different faiths, many different communities, but share a common purpose, which is to bring healing and hope and a sense of community to all people.”

“I would like to talk with these faith leaders about the impending decision from the United States Supreme Court that we believe will undo the very principles and premise of the importance of the privacy right that Roe v. Wade stands for,” said the vice president.

“On the issue of Roe, it, of course — basically, the premise of Roe and the power of Roe is it is about saying that people should have the right to make decisions about their own bodies — that women should have that right and have unfettered access to reproductive healthcare.”

Harris insisted that supporting Roe v. Wade “does not mean giving up core beliefs,” claiming that it is “simply about agreeing that a woman should be able to make that decision with her faith leader, with her family, with her physician — and that the government should not be making that decision for her.”

Pro-life groups and opponents of the Biden administration were quick to criticize Harris’ remarks and the event. 

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, a leading grassroots pro-life advocacy organization formerly known as Susan B. Anthony List, took to Twitter to state that “Harris somehow managed to avoid saying either 'God' or ‘abortion’ even once” during her opening remarks.

The Republican National Committee’s Director of Faith Communications Andrew Brennan issued a statement denouncing the roundtable event.

“Families can’t afford gas or groceries because of Joe Biden, and yet all this White House wants to talk about is their radical late-term abortion agenda — they couldn’t be more out of touch if they tried," Brennan stated. 

“[Eighty] percent of Americans believe that third trimester abortions should be prohibited in most or all cases” and that “only 16% of independent voters believe abortion should be allowed at any time and for any reason.”  

The U.S. is only one of less than 10 nations that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. According to the RNC, that puts the country in the "same ranks as China and North Korea."

If Roe is overturned, abortion will not automatically become illegal in the U.S. since the legality of abortion will be decided on a state-by-state basis.

Twenty-one states will either outlaw abortion completely or restrict the procedure more severely than they do currently. Meanwhile, 16 states will continue to allow abortions throughout most or all of pregnancy as the right to abortion has been codified into state law, 10 states will likely continue enforcing existing abortion restrictions and three states could soon hold referendums to determine abortion law moving forward.

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