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Vice President Kamala Harris talks reproductive freedom during Montgomery County visit: ‘We have to be active’

ELKINS PARK — Vice President Kamala Harris campaigned on reproductive freedoms during a Wednesday afternoon visit to Montgomery County.

The event brought out more than 150 Democratic supporters, community leaders and elected officials to Salus University amid the 2024 election season. The private college, located in Cheltenham Township, Montgomery County, features healthcare-focused degree programs.

“We must be vigilant and hold onto these rights,” Harris said to a room full of people.

Harris was not alone on stage. Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph took a break from her role as Barbara Howard on the Philadelphia-based television show, “Abbot Elementary,” to engage in the conversation. Ralph also has ties to the area in her own life as the long-time spouse of state Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-7th Dist.

“This human right here isn’t out to connect some of us. She is here to connect all of us. And this human being just happens to be a woman,” Ralph said of Harris as the crowd erupted in applause.

2 women seated on a stage with microphones.
Vice President Kamala Harris, right, laughs as she speaks with actress Sheryl Lee Ralph on May 8, 2024 at a campaign event at Salus University in Elkins Park. (Rachel Ravina – MediaNews Group)

The vice president spent much of Wednesday’s event advocating for abortion rights, an issue that’s sure to be on the minds of voters in November when President Joe Biden faces off against former president Donald Trump in the general election.

Pennsylvania has long been a key election battleground state, and according to a campaign statement, Harris has visited the Keystone State more than a dozen times in the last four years.

The exchange between Harris and Ralph focused on the need to increase overall accessibility as the two stressed the importance of organizations like Planned Parenthood.

“You go to clinics like these because you need health care,” Ralph said, adding that “being a woman is not something to be ashamed of. Listen, if a man can get Viagra, I need health care too.”

Speakers blasted Trump’s policy choices and judicial nominations to the Supreme Court during his presidency. The Supreme Court overturned the controversial Roe v. Wade decision in June 2022, allowing each state to decide on abortion restrictions.State Sen. Art Haywood, D-4th Dist., is pictured speaking on May 8, 2024 during a campaign event featuring Vice President Kamala Harris at Salus University in Elkins Park. (Rachel Ravina - MediaNews Group)

State Sen. Art Haywood, D-4th Dist., is pictured speaking on May 8, 2024 during a campaign event featuring Vice President Kamala Harris at Salus University in Elkins Park. (Rachel Ravina – MediaNews Group)State Sen. Art Haywood, D-4th Dist., represents constituents in Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. He took to the stage Wednesday and declared he’s “proud to defend the right to choose.”

Anti-abortion efforts have ramped up in recent months, with some states imposing varying levels of abortion bans and threats of punitive penalties on medical practitioners. Harris spoke of a six-week ban imposed in Florida just last week.

“Which makes very clear — by the way — that these very important so-called leaders are not very clear about how a woman’s body works since most women don’t even know they’re pregnant at six weeks,” Harris said.

“So either they (leaders) don’t know or they don’t care. This is what’s happening in our country in this year, 2024.”

“And so we have to all of us — and I’m preaching to the choir with this group that’s here — we have to be active,” she continued. “We have to stand for these fundamental points that are about freedom, and also, hopefully, that we all as Americans have a sense of empathy and concern about the suffering of other people.”

Some states brought referendums to the voters to decide abortion rights.

“When this issue was on the ballot the American people voted for freedom,” Harris said.

Looking ahead to November, it’s an issue Democrats stressed must be taken seriously.

“We know why we’re here today,” said Montgomery County Commissioners’ Chairwoman Jamila Winder, a Democrat. “We know the huge issue reproductive rights are right here in this country and potentially in our state.”

“We have seen our rights and freedoms eroded and threatened further since Donald Trump got Roe overturned,” she continued. “Here in Pennsylvania a woman’s right to make medical decisions with her doctor, not her legislator is still the law, but that could change in an instant if Donald Trump makes it back to the White House.”

Natalie Lennick, president of the West Norriton Township-based Whitehall Elementary School’s parent faculty club, agreed.

“I refuse to live in a world where our children have less rights than we did,” Lennick said.

The issues touched Ralph personally, as she shared with the audience that she encountered health issues during her own pregnancy.

“That was 30 years ago. I had more rights 30 years ago,” Ralph said.

Montgomery County Commissioners' Chairwoman Jamila Winder address attendees of a campaign event on May 8, 2024 at Salus University in Elkins Park featuring Vice President Kamala Harris. (Rachel Ravina - MediaNews Group)
Montgomery County Commissioners’ Chairwoman Jamila Winder addresses attendees of a campaign event on May 8, 2024 at Salus University in Elkins Park featuring Vice President Kamala Harris. (Rachel Ravina – MediaNews Group)

Montgomery County officials showed up in droves as representation from elected leaders spanned from local to county to state governments were represented in the audience and as speakers ahead of Harris’ appearance. Among them were Winder and Montgomery County Commissioners’ Vice Chairman Neil Makhija, also a Democrat.

“I think the core message that exercising your right to vote to protect your reproductive freedom is one that is going to be compelling to a lot of women, and men, and really all Montgomery county residents,” Makhija told MediaNews Group.

“It’s great to have the vice president in Montgomery County. We know that Montgomery County is key to this year’s election. So it’s just super exciting,” Winder told MediaNews Group.

Maternal health disparities were also discussed during the conversation. In addition, Harris touched on legislative initiatives during the administration’s first term surrounding gun violence and prescription medications. However, voter outreach was also a key component of Wednesday’s campaign event as Winder implored attendees in her home county to “show up and show out on Nov. 5,” underscoring that “there is so much on the line.”

Trump will be in the greater Philadelphia region later this week, holding a campaign rally in New Jersey, according to media outlets.


Source: Berkshire mont

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