By Ethan Dumper
On Monday, Oct.17, Vice President Kamala Harris visit- ed Los Angeles for a discussion on abortion rights. She held a roundtable discussion with Congresswoman and Los Angeles mayoral candidate Karen Bass, and Planned Parenthood Vice President of Public Affairs Celinda Vázquez in Mid-City, Los Angeles, which people like the current mayor and Holly Mitchell, who currently sits on the LA County Board of Supervisors, described as extraordinary and important for people to hear.
In that discussion, they talked about what the Biden-Harris Administration is doing to protect the right to abortion and how Congress could pass abortion legislation. They made it clear that this was not a political event, but rather an honest factual discussion about abortion and a woman’s right to abortion in America.
All of this took place against the backdrop of the recent developments in Iran and the damning recording of Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo, and Kevin de Leon in a Los Angeles City Council redistricting meeting, where Martinez allegedly made inappropriate and racist remarks.
Los Angeles received visits from both President Biden and Vice President Harris in the past week. The event took place at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, a small theater in Mid-City that seats about 400 folks, and began with speeches from Mayor Garcetti, Sen. Padilla, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, and State Senate Pro Tempore Toni Atkins. They all talked about the importance of protecting abortion rights, expressed outrage over the overturning of Roe V. Wade, and gave examples of occurrences in other states and why it was important to protect rights in California.
“We have to keep up the fight, must keep up the fight, to codify Roe and protect a woman’s right to choose,” Sen. Padilla said. “Not just here in California, but across the country because we can’t go back and we won’t go back.”
At times, when a seemingly political statement was made, Vice President Harris or Congresswoman Bass would jump in and point out that they were just stating facts. Fact: The right to Abortion was under attack nationwide.
Fact: People around the world point to the United States as an example and a leader in freedom. Fact: The right to abortion is in fact about freedom and liberty. Fact: If the Democrats hold what they currently have in Congress and pick up two more senate seats, they could do away with the filibuster and pass a law making Abortion a legal right. This fact was brought up often, at one point Vice President Harris held up two fingers and repeated the words, “We need two more senators.” Yet even with all of the attention that this was not a political event, Vice-President Harris expressed outrage toward Conservative states, Republicans in Congress, and the Supreme Court.
She recalled a meeting she had with her staff, and she said, “‘Make me a Venn diagram of states that attack LGBTQIA+ rights, abortion rights, and voting rights.’ As you can see [holding up the Venn diagram in front of her] there’s significant overlap.” She was angry that states were attacking what she felt were ideals of freedom and liberty. “It’s immoral. It’s immoral,” she said about the fact that people in need were being denied access to abortion in certain states. Amidst all of their anger, there was a common theme among the speakers of their willingness to fight.
Sen. Padilla said that we must keep up the fight and that we will not go back. Vice President Harris said, “These rights will only be as strong as we are willing to fight for them. So fight we will.” She said that
“These rights [LGBTQIA+, vot- ing, abortion, and more] will not be permanent if we are not prepared to stay vigilant.” Mayor Garcetti posed us the question, “Are we ready to defend what is good in America? Are we ready to defend the legal right to abortion in this city, state, and country? Are you ready?” Attorney General Bonta told us, “In California, we will not fail. We are using the full force of the law, the full authority of the office, to protect and defend the right to freedom and the right to choice.” They may have all phrased it differently, but they were all sending the same message; They will fight, they will stay vigilant, and they will do everything in their power to protect the right to choice.
Many things come next, but the next round of fights fall on election day. That is the day Karen Bass herself is on the ballot for LA Mayor, and when I talked to some of the leaders who spoke on Monday, they all had good things to say about her. “I’ve endorsed Karen Bass for mayor of Los Angeles,” Sen. Padilla said, citing her leader- ship skills and their close partnership in the past. During Mayor Garcetti’s speech, there was an interesting moment when he said, “In the mayor’s race we need to pay attention to which candidates are pro- choice and have always been pro-choice.”
Bass’ opponent Rick Caruso’s current platform is that he is pro-choice, although he has donated to pro-life candidates in the past. The mayor clarified to me afterward that he’s not endorsing either candidate though. “I’ve always said it’s important for the current mayor to support who the next mayor is, but I’ll say this. I’ve known Karen Bass for a long time… She’s a dear friend and an extraordinary leader.” One of the other major propositions on the ballot is Proposition 1. This would amend our current state constitution to ensure that abortion is a legal right and will be for years to come. I talked to Congresswoman Bass about this after the event. “Nov. 8, that’s what‘s next, the election… People have to vote to pass the proposition to pro- tect a woman’s right to choose in California.”
Abortion will be on the ballot in California on November 8th in the form of a constitutional amendment to the state constitution; figures like Karen Bass and Kamala Harris want you to stay engaged and stay vigilant.
Ethan Dumper, 13, is a Kid- Scoop Media correspondent.