A vice-presidential focus on Minnesota reproductive rights

Just over two weeks before the midterm elections, Vice President Kamala Harris visited Minnesota to speak with Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan and podcaster and editor Emily Tisch Sussman.

Eliza Hagstrom, Guest Reporter

As midterm elections approach, the state of Minnesota reflects on the importance of their role in the continuity of reproductive rights conversation.  

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24, 2022 overturn of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey on June 24, 2022, Minnesota has become an island in the Midwest of reproductive rights. Most states in the region had trigger laws that drastically reduced reproductive rights and healthcare once Roe v. Wade was overturned. Minnesota has become a safe haven for people seeking reproductive healthcare. 

United States’ Vice President Kamala Harris made an appearance in Minnesota on Oct.22, 2022, to have a conversation about the importance of protecting reproductive rights. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who is running for reelection this year, welcomed everyone and Harris to the conversation.  

“American history has been to expand our freedoms, not revoke them,” Ellison said. 

A major part of Ellison’s reelection campaign is the promise of protecting reproductive rights and healthcare in Minnesota. 

Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota Peggy Flanagan and Marie Claire editor and “She Pivots” podcast host Emily Tisch Sussman co-moderated the conversation. 

Flanagan said that the first person she called upon hearing of the overturning of Roe v. Wade was her mother, who she pointed out in the crowd along with her aunt. That her mother told her that she had been preparing her all her life for this moment, something Flanagan agrees with.

“Minnesota remains an island of access to abortion, not only to those within our borders but to our neighbors… that’s what being a good neighbor is,” Flanagan said. 

Once Harris was on stage, she and Tisch Sussman both reflected on their roles as mothers concerning the overturning. That their daughters now have fewer rights than they did, or then their grandmothers had when they were planning for their own families. That this reality is what drives both of these women to work to do all that they can to protect the rights of their daughters. 

“The fact is that there is an election in 17 days. That’s a fact and I know one of the people on the ballot will be the attorney general of this great state. It matters who represents the people of this state and is responsible for doing justice on behalf of those people when it comes to an issue like this,” Harris said.

Harris emphasized the importance of knowing who your county prosecutor is, especially in other states where people no longer have these rights. Other states are proposing and passing laws that can put healthcare providers in jail for providing reproductive healthcare. 

These rights being taken away do not only impact our country. The United States has been looked to as a role model for democracy, human rights and freedom on the world stage. But the impact of rights being taken away causes the world to question our authority on these issues. 

“The thing about being a role model; people watch what you do. To see if it matches what you say,” Harris said. “What gives me hope is our willingness to fight for this country that we love.” 

Harris urges the forming of coalitions for the intersectionality of issues. 

“Do not throw up your hands when it is time to roll up your sleeves,” Harris said, closing out the event.

After this conversation, Harris attended a fundraiser event for Governor Tim Walz’s and Flanagan’s reelection campaign.