Vice President Kamala Harris described the flood of laws restricting abortion access as a “health care crisis” as she visited with abortion providers and staff members on Thursday at a clinic in St. Paul, Minn.

The stop by Ms. Harris at St. Paul Health Center, Vandalia, a Planned Parenthood clinic, was believed to be the first visit by a vice president to an abortion clinic.

Speaking to reporters in the lobby of the clinic, Ms. Harris assailed conservative “extremists” for passing laws that restrict abortion, resulting in the denial of emergency care for pregnant women and the shuttering of clinics that provide reproductive health care beyond abortion.

“These attacks against an individual’s right to make decisions about their own body are outrageous and, in many instances, just plain old immoral,” she said. “How dare these elected leaders believe they are in a better position to tell women what they need, to tell women what is in their best interest. We have to be a nation that trusts women.”

The image alone of the nation’s second-ranking leader walking into an abortion clinic provided a vivid illustration of how the politics of abortion rights have transformed since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022. In the lobby was a map showing Planned Parenthood clinics in Minnesota and neighboring states. Minnesota had by far the most, with a few in Iowa. Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota were almost bare — all have restricted abortion access since the overturning of Roe.

For decades, many Democrats viewed affirmative support for abortion rights as a political risk, fearing such a position could alienate more moderate voters who were uncomfortable with open discussion of the procedure. The party embraced cautious slogans like “safe, legal and rare” and policies like banning taxpayer funding of abortions.

But the fall of Roe upended those politics, creating a new generation of voters energized by their support for abortion rights. The issue has become one of the Democrats’ biggest strengths, party strategists say. In campaign speeches, as well as in his State of the Union address, President Biden casts the issue of abortion rights as one of personal freedom and the right to make private health care decisions.

Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who has been surveying voters about abortion for more than four decades, said she could not recall a time when abortion rights were as motivating for their voters.

“It’s the No. 1 issue working for Democrats at every level in office,” Ms. Lake said. “Everything from county commissioners to presidents are being elected around this issue.”


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Credit: NYTimes.com

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