Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris unveiled a new plan to protect abortion access on Tuesday, May 28th, joining fellow White House hopefuls pushing back against Republican-backed state laws that restrict a woman's right to end a pregnancy.
The US senator from California said if elected president she will force states with a history of hostility toward Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a woman's right to an abortion, to first obtain approval from the Justice Department before a law restricting abortion could take effect.
Harris' proposal comes amid an intensifying national debate on abortion rights, as roughly two dozen Democrats seek to become the candidate to take on Republican President Donald Trump in next year's election, according to Reuters.
Alabama this month approved one of the strictest abortion laws in the United States. It would make abortion illegal in nearly all cases, including those of rape and incest.
Several other Republican-controlled states, including Georgia and Ohio, have recently passed so-called "heartbeat" laws, which outlaw abortion if a doctor is able to detect a foetal heartbeat, which can occur as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
"I think it's very clear that – and it has not changed – that women's ability to have access to reproductive health is under attack in America," Harris stated at the town hall.
The US Supreme Court on Tuesday, May 28th, refused to consider reinstating Indiana's ban on abortions performed because of foetal disability, or the sex or race of the foetus, while upholding a requirement that foetal remains be buried or cremated after the procedure is done.
The Harris plan is modelled on former preclearance provisions under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which were in place to protect voters from laws deemed hostile to a citizen's ability to cast a ballot.
Under Harris' plan, a state with a history of violating the Roe decision will have to prove that any new law or practice does not end or curtail a woman's right to choose an abortion.
The Supreme Court in 2013 said the map used for civil rights preclearance was outdated and needed to be updated before preclearance could resume.
In response, Harris said the Supreme Court invalidated the preclearance map and the preclearance process for abortion access would consider actions taken by states over the past 25 years.