Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday will make her first trip to Iowa since taking office for an abortion rights event, a White House official told CNN.
Harris will travel to Des Moines to convene a roundtable with local leaders about the fight to protect reproductive rights.
The last-minute, high-profile trip comes after flurry of activity from Republicans presidential hopefuls who’ve descended on the early caucus state, like former President and current candidate Donald Trump and potential 2024 GOP candidate Ron DeSantis. GOP politicians have begun to woo caucus-goers who favor personal politicking, as the state is set to play its traditional role in kicking off the party’s 2024 nominating contest.
President Joe Biden, who is expected to launch a 2024 reelection bid, has been absent from the state after urging national Democrats to replace Iowa first-in-the-nation caucuses with South Carolina, a primary state where the majority of Democratic voters are Black, which propelled him to the nomination in 2020. The Democratic National Committee adopted the president’s changes last month but the vice president’s visit to Iowa underscores how Democrats do not intend to fully abandon the state, despite its Republican-leaning trends.
Harris’ trip will also come a day after a federal judge overseeing a challenge to the federal government’s approval of a medication abortion drug will hold a hearing in the case. The vice president has become the Biden administration’s lead messenger on the issue after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer, holding that there is no longer a federal constitutional right to an abortion.
This week, she slammed attacks on medication abortion and warned that preventing doctors from prescribing mifepristone, the first drug in the medication abortion process, could have wider ramifications.
“But if extremists and politicians can override FDA approval and remove one medication from the shelves – in this case, abortion medication – one must ask: What medication is next?” Harris said in a recent press call with local media and coalition outlets.
Harris has held dozens of events on access to abortion care since last year, meeting with activists and state lawmakers about abortion rights in deep red and swing states.
Recently, Iowa State House Republicans introduced a bill that would ban all abortions in the state, determining that life begins at conception. Iowa’s Supreme Court ruled last year that the state Constitution does not protect the right to an abortion, clearing the way for the state’s Republican legislative majority to potentially enact stricter abortion measures.
This story has been updated with additional details.