Claim: “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris support taxpayer funding of abortion all the way up to the moment of birth, late term abortion,” Vice President Mike Pence said at last week’s vice presidential debate.
Pence’s claim is similar to one President Donald Trump’s campaign has been making about the Democratic presidential ticket for some time.
They are eager to show that Biden and Harris would encourage women who elect to get abortions.
Harris, the Democrats’ vice presidential candidate, has been a U.S. senator since January 2017. The California Democrat got a perfect score from NARAL, which fights for abortion rights, for her votes in each of her first three years in the Senate. Planned Parenthood Votes lists on a web page “9 Reasons to Love Kamala Harris.”
Harris reiterated her support for abortion rights this week while questioning Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee,during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings this week. Barrett has sided in the past with anti-abortion sentiment.
She would not say this week how she might rule if confirmed., though Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Barrett was “unashamedly pro-life.”
On the anti-abortion side, National Right to Life says on its website “We Agree 0% of the time.”
“There is nothing moderate about Harris particularly on the issue of abortion,” said Penny Nance, president and chief executive officer of Concerned Women for America, a group that promotes traditional values offering a seven day prayer guide for Barrett supporters.
The Trump campaign has been pushing this view hard. One video on the Trump campaign site features the president talking about the Democrats’ view on abortion, and warns “you know and I know Biden is not going to be running things….Biden’s shot.”
Democrats are convinced they have a winning issue, as voters this year list the court vacancy as one of their biggest concerns.
Harris reiterated her support for abortion rights this week while questioning Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. Barrett has written in opposition to abortion, but would not say how she might rule if confirmed.
A Pew Research Center survey in July found the court appointment the third most important issue to voters, after the economy and health care. In July, 2016, when there was also a court vacancy, the issue ranked ninth in voter importance..
An ABC-Washington Post poll last week found 62% thought Roe v. Wade should be upheld. Roe is the 1973 Supreme Court decision allowing women access to safe and legal action, though states could impose some restrictions.
Harris’ views on abortion are very much in the mainstream of Democratic policy. Among her positions:
▪ Make it harder for states to put restrictions on abortion
“For any state that passes a law that violates the Constitution, and in particular Roe v. Wade, our Department of Justice will review that law to determine if it is compliant with Roe v. Wade and the Constitution, and if it is not, that law will not go into effect,” Harris said during an October, 2019 Democratic presidential candidate debate.
Harris, running for the White House at the time, explained that “the reality is that while we still have… these state legislators who are outdated and out of touch, mostly men who are telling women what to do with their bodies, then there needs to be accountability and consequence.”
If Roe v. Wade is diluted or overturned, experts believe many states would continue to attempt to permit certain abortions.
▪ Support the Women’s Health Protection Act. This is a sweeping plan, supported by many Democrats, to help provide legal and safe abortion.
It would allow women to get abortion care “free from medically unnecessary restrictions and bans,” says an analysis from the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy group that studies sexual and reproductive rights.
The bill would bar requiring patients to undergo medical tests or procedures, such as an ultrasound, when they are not medically indicated. Nor would states be permitted to require abortion providers to give wrong information about abortion.
The bill would permit medication abortion to be administered via telehealth and prohibit forcing patients to make medically unnecessary in-person visits to get care before receiving abortion care.
▪ No support for abortion up until birth
There is no record of Harris or Biden saying they support taxpayer funding of abortion until the time of birth, though anti-abortion activists point to congressional votes they say illustrate Democrats’ reluctance to bar such abortions.
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would impose criminal penalties for anyone performing an abortion on a fetus of 20 weeks ore more.
A Senate vote in February to limit debate on the bill was seven votes short as most Democrats, including Harris, voted to filibuster. Politifact has found that Harris and Biden “say they support the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized abortion and allowed states to regulate it after fetal viability.”
Anti-abortion interests have also pushed hard this year for the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.
It says that medical professionals have to care for an infant surviving an attempted abortion just as they would treat any baby. Someone who did not could face prison time, and a person who kills an infant after a failed abortion could face murder charges.
Opponents argued that laws already prohibit killing a baby born alive. An effort to limit debate on the bill in February fell four votes short, effectively killing the bill.