Vice President Kamala Harris addresses fight for reproductive healthcare during speech in Tallahassee

Photo by Sam Thomas for WCTV.
Photo by Sam Thomas for WCTV.(WCTV)
Published: Jan. 22, 2023 at 2:03 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 22, 2023 at 6:03 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - “It is good to be back in Florida - and Tallahassee,” said Vice President Kamala Harris.

The vice president addressed a crowd Sunday afternoon in Tallahassee on the 50th commemoration of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

Harris first took the opportunity to speak about the mass shooting that occurred earlier today in Monterey Park, California, where a gunman killed 10 people at a ballroom dance studio.

“I do want to address the tragedy of what happened in my home state,” Harris said.

“A time of a cultural celebration … and yet another community has been torn apart by senseless gun violence.”

Harris came to Florida to address the fight for reproductive rights and reinforce the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to protecting access to abortion.

“America is a promise. A promise of freedom and liberty. Not for some. For all,” the vice president said to a crowd of supporters at The Moon in Tallahassee.

“Today, however, on what would have been its 50th anniversary, we speak of the Roe decision in the past tense.”

The speech showed that abortion remains a focus for the administration even after the midterm elections and as a response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe V. Wade.

“So today, we are fighting back. I am pleased to announce that President Biden has issued a Presidential Memorandum. Members of our Cabinet and our Administration are now directed to identify barriers to access and recommend actions to make sure that: doctors can legally prescribe, doctors can dispense, and women can secure safe and effective medication,” the vice president said.

President Biden also released a statement earlier addressing the Roe v. Wade decision anniversary.

“Today, instead of commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, we are acknowledging that last year, the Supreme Court took away a constitutional right from the American people,” said the president in a statement released by the White House.

“Since the Supreme Court’s decision, Americans, time and time again, have made their voices heard: women should be able to make these deeply personal decisions free from political interference. Yet, Republicans in Congress and across the country continue to push for a national abortion ban, to criminalize doctors and nurses, and to make contraception harder to access. It’s dangerous, extreme, and out of touch. I’ll continue to fight to protect a woman’s right to choose. Congress must restore the protections of Roe v. Wade in federal law – it’s the only way we can fully secure a woman’s right to choose in every state.”

President Biden’s memorandum on reproductive rights is provided below.

In the face of barriers to medication abortion and concerns about the safety of patients, healthcare providers, and pharmacists, today’s Presidential Memorandum announces actions to:

  • Protect Legal Access to Medication Abortion. The Presidential Memorandum directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS), to consider new guidance to support patients, providers, and pharmacies who wish to legally access, prescribe, or provide mifepristone—no matter where they live.
  • Safeguard Patient Safety and Security. To ensure that patients understand their right to access reproductive healthcare despite roadblocks, the Presidential Memorandum directs the Secretary of HHS, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of DHS, to consider new actions to ensure that patients can access legal reproductive care, including medication abortion from a pharmacy, free from threats or violence. The President has long made clear that people should have access to reproductive care free from harassment, threats, or violence. Pharmacies should be treated no differently.

The Attorney General and the Secretaries of HHS and DHS will also provide recommendations to the White House Interagency Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access, which was established by President Biden in Executive Order 14076, on additional ways to address barriers faced by patients, providers, and pharmacies in safely and legally accessing or providing medication abortion, consistent with evidence-based requirements set by the FDA.