VP Kamala Harris speaks on abortion, reproductive rights during Austin visit

Vice President Kamala Harris visited two spots in Austin on Saturday, first at the LBJ Library for a moderated conversation with NARAL Pro-Choice America and Groundwell Fund on reproductive rights.

Then, she was the keynote speaker at the Hyatt Regency for the Texas Democratic Party's Johnson-Jordan reception, which raises money for voter advocacy and community organizing.

With just a month before the midterm election, the Vice President encouraged people to vote for Democrats up and down the ballot and encouraged others to register to vote. "If you believe that women's rights, LGBTQ+ rights are fundamental to America, vote for Democrats," Harris said.

Harris highlighted what she says are the accomplishments of the Biden administration.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced he would pardon all prior federal marijuana offenses. "Nobody should have to go to jail for smoking weed," Harris said.

She also spoke about helping working families, canceling student loan debt, infrastructure investments, and gun reform.

"Democrats expanded background checks for gun purchasers, because we stand with the incredible families of Uvalde who channel their anguish into advocacy to demand action and to save lives," she said.

The party says they're working to turn the state blue, reversing what they call the dangerous course the state is on with Republican leadership. "These extremists are so scared to let Americans vote," Harris said.

Attendee Angela Crane says she was looking forward to hearing Harris talk about abortion rights. "No birth control is 100 percent, so to force women and to put it on the onus of women, to control that, I just think that's ludicrous and unfair, and something needs to be done," Crane said.

"While extremist so-called leaders trumpet the rhetoric of freedom, they attack the very foundations of freedom," Harris said, referring to abortion rights.

Harris was recently criticized for calling the border "secure."

U.S. Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX 25) says he'd disappointed she didn't go to the border. "She and President Biden have no clue what's happening down at that border. They've ignored it, and just like other times she's ignored it now by heading to Austin and heading back to D.C and coming to Austin to get money," he said.


Harris has gone to El Paso, but not other places like McAllen or Harlingen.

Williams says she needs to see things like unaccompanied minors and potential criminals coming in.

"You need to go to the border and talk to Border Patrol, talk to the people in McAllen, South Texas. Talk to these people who are coming over illegally," he said. "We got to promote legal behavior. We have a way to promote people to be citizens and guest worker programs. We just need to adhere to the law. Because, Madam Vice President, you're breaking the law. You're asking people to break the law."

The border was also on some attendees' minds. "Just what are her reasons and what does she think will help solve the problem because we cannot continue to open the border to immigrants who are entering the country illegally," Crane said.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) also released a statement calling on Harris to visit the border.

The Vice President did not address the border in her speech, only saying immigration reform is needed, and that Democrats are defending DACA. "If you believe immigrant justice is fundamental to America, vote for Democrats," Harris said.