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VP Harris calls for liberty, freedom at Tallahassee abortion rights rally

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at The Moon in Tallahassee to mark the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023.
Valerie Crowder
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at The Moon in Tallahassee to mark the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023.

Vice President Kamala Harris delivered remarks on the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade in Tallahassee, where hundreds of people packed a local nightlife venue to rally for abortion rights.

The theme of her message: America's promise of "freedom and liberty — not for some, but for all."

This Sunday also marks the first anniversary of Roe since the U.S. Supreme Court decided to overturn its 1973 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

The overturning of Roe gave the power to enact laws on abortion to the states, rather than guaranteeing a right to abortion to all Americans based on the U.S. Constitution.

“Our body. Our choice. Our body. Our choice," the rally's attendees chanted while waiting for Harris to take the stage at The Moon.

Many attendees traveled from across the state to hear the vice president’s remarks.

"I don't believe in abortions, but I'm here to support the rights of women who choose to have an abortion," said Debra Ellick, 70, who drove from Sanford.

"No one has the right to take any woman's choice away from her as it relates to her body, plain and simple."

Florida has enacted a ban on most abortions past 15 weeks of pregnancy. It doesn't include exceptions for rape and incest.

Though it remains unclear how far the Republican supermajority in the state legislature might go to further restrict access to abortion, legislative leaders have offered some hints.

For instance, Republican Senate President Kathleen Passidomo has expressed support for a 12-week ban that includes exceptions for rape and incest.

During Harris' remarks, she recognized pregnant people who must now travel to another state to get an abortion "because last June the United States Supreme Court took away that constitutional right, a fundamental right, a basic freedom from the people of America, from the women of America.”

Harris also emphasized America’s promise of freedom and liberty for all. “A promise that we made in the Declaration of Independence that we are each endowed with the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness," she said. "To be clear, these rights were not bestowed upon us, they belong to us as Americans.”

Harris said Congress should pass a measure guaranteeing access to abortion. She also announced President Biden’s latest efforts to protect access to the abortion pill.

Valerie Crowder hosts and produces state and local newscasts during All Things Considered. Her reporting on local government and politics has received state and regional award recognition. She has also contributed stories to NPR newscasts.