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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

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use"

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

The CDC is urging “universal face mask use” for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, citing recent case spikes as the U.S. has entered a phase of “high-level transmission” before winter officially begins.

Why it matters: Daily COVID-related deaths across the U.S. hit a new record on Wednesday. Face coverings have been shown to increase protection of the wearer and those around them, despite some Americans' reluctance to use them.

3 hours ago - World

Saudi Arabia and Qatar near deal to end standoff, sources say

Qatar's prime minister (R) attends the 2019 Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Saudi Arabia. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are close to a deal to end the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf following U.S.-mediated reconciliation talks this week, sources familiar with the talks tell me.

Why it matters: Restoring relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar would bring a sense of stability back to the Gulf after a 3.5 year standoff. It could also notch a last-minute achievement for the Trump administration before Jan. 20.

House passes bill to decriminalize marijuana

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a longtime marijuana legalization advocate and co-sponsor of the bill. Photo: Pete Marovich For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The House on Friday voted 228-164 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, marking the first time a congressional chamber has voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.

Why it matters: The Washington Post describes the bill as a "landmark retreat in the nation’s decades-long war on drugs," which has disproportionately affected people of color.