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Harris Blasts Trump on Abortion at Arizona Campaign Stop

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Harris Blasts Trump on Abortion at Arizona Campaign Stop

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Vice President Kamala Harris laid into former President Donald J. Trump over abortion rights at a campaign rally in Arizona on Friday, accusing him of being directly responsible for a court decision this week that upheld the state’s 160-year-old near-total ban on abortion.

“Overturning Roe was just the opening act,” Ms. Harris told a crowd of several dozen supporters at a community center in Tucson, Ariz. “Just the opening act of a larger strategy to take women’s rights and freedoms. Part of a full-on attack — state by state — on reproductive freedom. And we all must understand who is to blame: Former President Donald Trump did this.”

Ms. Harris went on to call abortion restrictions in states like Arizona “Trump’s abortion bans.”

This week, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that an 1864 law banning almost all abortions, without exceptions for rape or incest, could be enforced, although not right away. Doctors could face prosecution under the law, which dates to a time before Arizona became a state.

The court’s decision came the day after Mr. Trump said that abortion should be left to the states, underscoring the unfavorable political terrain for Republicans on the issue. As president, Mr. Trump appointed three of the Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022, which has led to a proliferation of abortion bans across red states.

Democrats, led by Ms. Harris, have seized on the Arizona law. The Biden campaign released a new messaging campaign with the tagline: “Donald Trump did this.” Abortion rights groups in Arizona have set up rallies around the state, which has a race for an open Senate seat this year that could determine control of the chamber.

“This has been a very, very scary week for our state of Arizona,” said Representative Ruben Gallego, a Democrat who is running for that Senate seat against Kari Lake, a Republican. “Tuesday’s decision rocked all of us. We now have the nation’s most extreme abortion ban.”

Democratic candidates nationwide are focusing on abortion in their races, buoyed by the knowledge that the issue has propelled their party to a series of unexpected victories over the last two years. Abortion is one of the few issues on which President Biden polls better than Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump has said he does not support the Arizona law, as well as other extreme restrictions such as a six-week ban in Florida. He has argued that supporting those bans is hurting Republicans at the ballot box. But his allies have made plans to use the federal government to limit abortion should they win the White House. In Tucson, Ms Harris referred to those plans, which The New York Times has reported would rely on enforcing the Comstock Act.

“So here’s what a second Trump term looks,” Ms. Harris said. “More bans, more suffering and less freedom. Just like he did in Arizona, he basically wants to take America back to the 1800s.”

“Shame!” the crowd cried out as she described the potential impact of the 1864 law.

For Ms. Harris, the prominence of abortion in the presidential race is a chance to expand her profile as vice president, as well as her presence on the campaign trail. Last month, she became the highest-ranking U.S. official known to visit an abortion clinic.

“Kamala Harris has become the abortion czar of the Biden administration,” Carol Tobias, the president of the National Right to Life Committee, an anti-abortion group, said in a statement. “Instead of joining with the pro-life movement to build programs and safety nets to help promote real solutions for women and their preborn children, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have engaged in fear-mongering and propaganda.”

Ms. Harris may make for a more natural messenger on abortion than Mr. Biden, an 81-year-old practicing Catholic who has long expressed personal discomfort with the procedure even as he has become a committed supporter of abortion rights. He rarely uses the word “abortion” when speaking. On Friday, in contrast, Ms. Harris leaned into the issue.

In the United States, she argued, freedom includes the right “to make decisions about one’s own body and not have the government telling people what to do.”

Lisa Lerer contributed reporting.

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