Updated May 29, 2019

Kamala Harris unveils abortion plan in the mold of Voting Rights Act

Kamala Harris at a campaign stop in New Hampshire. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

In light of recent anti-abortion laws throughout the country, 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is proposing a plan that would require states trying to restrict abortion access to pre-clear any new reproductive health laws with the Department of Justice.

Why it matters: Harris is outlining a clear vision of her priorities if elected president shift the burden from those that face discrimination to those in power, particularly for women.

  • Last week Harris unveiled a plan to end the gender pay gap by fining non-compliant companies, making employers — not the employees — accountable for the problem.
  • This time, she's proposing the burden be on states to prove they're not violating constitutional rights by restricting abortion.

Details: Harris' reproductive rights proposal was formally unveiled during an MSNBC town hall on Tuesday night.

  • Any state that has introduced laws in violation of Roe v. Wade in the last 25 years — her campaign points to South Carolina, Iowa, and Georgia as examples — have to obtain a pre-clearance from the DOJ to move forward with any new abortion laws.
  • That's similar to the Voting Rights Act, which requires a "pre-clearance" process that "blocks discrimination before it occurs."
  • The plan adds to the Women's Health Protection Act, which Harris co-sponsors in the Senate and which goes after state laws that restrict abortion access.
  • Any new abortion laws "in a covered jurisdiction" will be illegal and unenforceable until the DOJ determines whether they are compliant with both the Women's Health Protection Act and Roe v. Wade.
  • Health care providers and their patients would have the ability to sue the DOJ if it doesn't enforce the abortion rights guaranteed under Roe and the Women's Health Protection Act.

What they're saying: Proposed abortion bans like in Alabama, Georgia and Missouri "will be struck down right away because they're patently unconstitutional, but there's a burden on Planned Parenthood and the ACLU to challenge those laws," said Laurie Rubiner, former vice president of public policy at Planned Parenthood. "I like that she's thinking so creatively about shifting that burden."

  • "The pre-clearance provision is surprising in the sense that it's really bold, which is great. I think it's really badly needed," Rubiner added.

The big picture: Other 2020 candidates — like Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Bernie Sanders — have released detailed abortion plans, but none have proposed a pre-clearance requirement.

Go deeper: Kamala Harris on the issues, in under 500 words

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus pandemic is the "greatest test" the world has faced together since the formation of the United Nations just after the Second World War ended in 1945, UN chief António Guterres said Tuesday.

The big picture: COVID-19 cases surged past 858,000 and the death toll exceeded 42,000 Tuesday night, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy reported more than 12,000 deaths.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 857,957 — Total deaths: 42,139 — Total recoveries: 178,091.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 188,547 — Total deaths: 3,899 — Total recoveries: 7,068.
  3. Business updates: Should you pay your rent or mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic? Find out if you are protected under the CARES Act.
  4. Public health updates: More than 400 long-term care facilities across the U.S. report patients with coronavirus — Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are more at risk, new data shows.
  5. Federal government latest: President Trump said the next two weeks would be "very painful," with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans.
  6. Coronavirus in custody: Inmates in all U.S. federal prisons are set to enter a 14-day quarantine on April 1. A federal judge on Tuesday ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release 10 detained immigrants who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 while in confinement.
  7. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Captain of nuclear aircraft carrier docked in Guam pleaded with the U.S. Navy for more resources after more than 100 members of his crew tested positive.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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White House projects 100,000 to 240,000 U.S. coronavirus deaths

President Trump said at a press briefing on Tuesday that the next two weeks in the U.S. will be "very painful" and that he wants "every American to be prepared for the days that lie ahead," before giving way to Deborah Birx to explain the models informing the White House's new guidance on the coronavirus.

Why it matters: It's a somber new tone from the president that comes after his medical advisers showed him data projecting that the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans — even with strict social distancing guidelines in place.

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