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Harris visited an abortion clinic, a first for any president or vice president

Vice President Harris speaks to reporters after her visit to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Saint Paul, Minn. on March 14.
Stephen Maturen
/
AFP via Getty Images
Vice President Harris speaks to reporters after her visit to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Saint Paul, Minn. on March 14.

Updated March 14, 2024 at 3:23 PM ET

Vice President Harris visited an abortion clinic in Minnesota on Thursday — an extraordinary stop meant to signal the importance the Biden campaign is placing on reproductive rights in the 2024 presidential race.

The White House believes this is the first time any U.S. president or vice president has visited a facility that provides abortions along with other reproductive care.

Harris said she made the visit to draw attention to the "very serious health crisis" facing women who live in states that placed new restrictions on abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022.

"We who have the ability to have a bouquet of microphones in front of us, as I do — I take on, then, the responsibility of uplifting these stories," Harris told reporters.

Harris went to a Planned Parenthood clinic

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe, Minnesota passed a new law guaranteeing the right to abortion. Neighboring states — including North Dakota and South Dakota — passed bans. That has meant more women traveling to Minnesota for the procedure.

Vice President Harris speaks with Dr. Sarah Traxler, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood North Central States, in Saint Paul, Minn.
Stephen Maturen / AFP via Getty Images
/
AFP via Getty Images
Vice President Harris speaks with Dr. Sarah Traxler, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood North Central States, in Saint Paul, Minn.

Inside the Planned Parenthood clinic in Saint Paul, Harris met with Dr. Sarah Traxler, the chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood North Central States. The clinic was open during her visit, but reporters were kept in the lobby.

"I am a proud abortion provider," Traxler told reporters after the tour, calling the vice president's visit a "historic moment."

"Since Roe was overturned, I've cared for patients from everywhere," Traxler said, noting women have come from states as far away as Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Missouri, Florida and Wyoming.

Harris emphasized that abortion is health care

About dozen protesters gathered outside for Harris' arrival at the clinic with Democratic Gov. Tim Walz and Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn. One sign said "Abortion is not healthcare."

Afterward, Harris emphasized to reporters that the facility provides health care for women. "It is absolutely about health care and reproductive health care. So everyone get ready for the language: 'uterus,'" Harris said. "That part of the body needs a lot of medical care from time to time."

Democrats see abortion as a winning issue for November

Harris' Twin Cities trip was the latest in a series of events she has had around the country highlighting reproductive rights since Roe was overturned. The issue has been a winning one for Democrats in elections that took place in 2022 and 2023, and the party has said they believe it will be on top of voters' minds heading into November.

In the last several weeks, Harris has been to a number of swing states critical for Biden's reelection, like Wisconsin, Michigan and Arizona.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: March 13, 2024 at 12:00 AM EDT
An earlier version of this story said the Supreme Court overturned Roe in 2021, instead of 2022.
Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.
Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.