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VP Kamala Harris says Democrats didn’t codify Roe v. Wade because they ‘believed certain issues are just settled’

Vice President Kamala Harris visits Fire Station No. 2 in Santa Monica, Calif., on Saturday, July 4, 2022.

Damian Dovarganes/AP

  • VP Kamala Harris told CBS that Democrats didn’t codify Roe v. Wade because it was “just settled.”
  • President Biden signed an executive order to fortify abortion rights. 
  • After the Supreme Court decision leaked, the White House scrambled to safeguard abortion rights. 

Vice President Kamala Harris defended Democrats for not codifying Roe v. Wade when they had the chance in the last several decades.

In an interview with CBS News’ Robert Costa on Friday, Harris said Democrats believed Roe was “just settled.” 

“When you look back, did Democrats fail, past Democratic presidents, congressional leaders, to not codify Roe v. Wade over the past five decades?” Costa asked. 

“I think that, to be very honest with you, I do believe that we should have rightly believed, but we certainly believed that certain issues are just settled,” Harris said. “Certain issues are just settled.”

Costa said that was “clearly” not the case following Roe’s overturn. 

“No, that’s right. And that’s why I do believe that we are living, sadly, in real unsettled times,” Harris said. 

—CBS News (@CBSNews) July 8, 2022

It comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade, which revoked the federal right to an abortion. A draft of the decision leaked in early May, leaving the White House and Democrats scrambling to secure avenues to protect abortion rights. 

President Joe Biden signed an executive order to direct the Department of Health and Human Services to protect access to abortion care, including medication abortion and contraception access, Insider previously reported. 

Following the Supreme Court decision, advocates for abortion rights called on President Joe Biden to initiate sweeping changes, such as expanding the Supreme Court and establishing abortion clinics on federal land. Biden has said his “administration will use all of its appropriate lawful powers” to help Americans retain access to abortion, but he has insisted the power to codify the right lies with Congress, not with him. 

“The only way we can secure a women’s right to choose, the balance that existed, is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade as federal law,” Biden said. “No executive action from the president can do that.”

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