Plainfield — Vice President Kamala Harris in Plainfield on Friday warned of continued loss of personal freedom after the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion rights just hours earlier and urged voters “to stand for self-determination and the right to privacy.”
Harris spoke to an audience of more than 250 at the C.W. Avery Family YMCA for what was to be an event devoted to programs aimed at improving maternal health care.
Her appearance was delayed for more than an hour and a half, however, after the release of the Supreme Court decision reversing Roe v. Wade. While other speakers, including U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin and U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, wove comments about maternal health care into the context of abortion rights, Harris’s comments were devoted almost entirely to the impact of the Supreme Court decision.
“For nearly 50 years, we have talked about what Roe vs. Wade protects,” Harris said. “Today, as of right now, as of this moment, we can only talk about what Roe vs. Wade protected – past tense. This is a health crisis. Millions of women will go to bed tonight without access to health care and reproductive health care that they had this morning, without access to health care and reproductive health care that their mothers and grandmothers had.”
Harris said a reference in the decision to abortion as “not deeply rooted in our nation’s history” can be used to question “other rights that we thought were settled.”
She listed use of contraception, gay marriage and even interracial marriage as among rights that could be eroded by the court decision.
“This is the first time that a constitutional right has been taken from the people of America,” Harris said. “It’s the right of privacy – the right of people to make personal decisions about hearth and home.”
Alluding to upcoming elections, Harris urged the audience “to stand for liberty, to stand for freedom, to stand for self-determination and the right to privacy.”
The original purpose of the event was to promote health care for pregnant woman, an issue promoted by both Harris and Rep. Underwood.
“We had a little change in plans, and I thank you for your patience,” Durbin said, when he appeared more than an hour after the event was to start.
Durbin then talked about the birth of his granddaughter with the help of in vitro fertilization, a process he suggested was jeopardized by the Supreme Court decision.
“We lost some ground today when it comes to freedom in America,” Durbin said.
Durbin also made a few comments about maternal health, saying that the death rate for pregnant woman in the United States is higher than it was 25 years ago.
Underwood devoted the most attention to maternal health care in her comments, mentioning the formation of the Black Maternal Health Caucus in Congress and the creation of the National Maternal Health Hotline.
“Pregnancy in the United States is deadlier than in any other high-income nation,” Underwood said.
She said measures aimed at changing the maternal mortality rate cover “the broad spectrum of reproductive health services including abortion.”
A group of about 30 people demonstrated on Lockport Street near the YMCA building, waving Trump flags and carrying signs with messages like “Welcome to MAGA Country” and “Trump Won.”
Molly Krempski of Yorkville said that the demonstrators were from church groups and political groups that wanted “to come out here and declare God’s truth.”
Jeff Berger of Naperville said the group wanted to express “not being happy with the decisions this administration has made, which has put the nation in the situation it’s in now.”