Kamala Harris caught a flight to Indianapolis on a cloudy Monday morning in July, a sense of inevitability hanging in the air like fog. In a post-Roe world, Indiana was about to become the first state to convene a special session on abortion restrictions—a legislative process that could, in a matter of weeks, decide the fate of women and pregnant people for years to come. Speaking to a circle of Democratic state leaders ahead of the afternoon session, the vice president didn’t mince words.
“This has created a health care crisis in America,” Harris said. "And I will tell you, around our country, we are seeing, indeed, many states since the Dobbs decision and attempting even before to criminalize health professionals, to punish women.”
Emboldened by the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization last month, half the country is expected to criminalize abortion with state abortion bans that range in scope and severity. Some plan to permit the procedure exclusively in cases of rape, incest, and imminent danger to the woman’s life. Others have chosen to outlaw abortion after six weeks—a deadline so early in a pregnancy that most women are guaranteed to miss it. And in a select number of especially punishing states, almost all abortions are illegal with no exceptions.
“It makes me very angry,” Harris admitted in an interview with Glamour at the Indiana state library, directly following her discussion with lawmakers. “And what’s most outrageous about it, not only to put in place these restrictions but to suggest that the government is smarter than a woman is about what’s in her best interest. I trust the women of America, and there’s so much about what these laws are that suggests that these lawmakers, so-called leaders, do not trust the women of America.”
The consequences are going to be dire. In Indiana the attorney general threatened to prosecute the doctor who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio, where abortions after six weeks are banned even in cases of rape and incest. Under a Tennessee trigger law scheduled to go into effect August 25, abortion is a class C felony permissible only in cases in which the provider can prove the procedure was medically necessary to save a woman’s life. But that allowance does not extend to threats of suicide, self-harm, or “any reason relating to her mental health.” It’s not an abstract possibility that some women will die as a result of these bans.