Aug 8, 2022 - Politics

VP Harris meets with Utah's Rep. Romero about abortion rights

A group of Latina lawmakers talking at a table.
A gathering of Latina state legislators protecting reproductive rights in their states, convened by Vice President Kamala Harris. (AP)

Vice President Kamala Harris met with state Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, and other Latina state legislators on Friday, to discuss fighting for abortion rights in their own states.

State of play: Harris has met with state lawmakers, health care providers and activists to discuss reproductive rights since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. This was her first meeting with Latina state legislators, Axios Latino's Marina E. Franco reports.

  • The six other Latina lawmakers represented Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, Nevada, New York, and Texas.

What she's saying: "[Harris] really wanted to address abortion and abortion access and how it impacts the Latinx community," Romero, president-elect of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, told Axios. "Even though we have a Republican-controlled Legislature — doesn’t mean that we shouldn't be talking about issues that impact Utahns, like access to health care."

  • Romero said she wanted to get feedback from the federal government and other colleagues about the types of policies lawmakers can introduce in their own states to help women.

Context: Utah is one of 13 states with an abortion trigger law.

Why it matters: Hispanic women in Utah are "far less likely" to have access to health care, according to an analysis by the Utah Women & Leadership Project at Utah State University.

  • About 20% of Utah Latinas say they don't seek health care due to cost.
  • Nationally, about a quarter of abortion patients are Hispanic women, according to data from the Guttmacher Institute.

Flashback: Utah's abortion ban was put on hold after the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah sued the state to block it from going into effect.

The big picture: Democrats are using access to reproductive health care as a motivating issue for voters ahead of midterm elections.

What's next: Romero plans to sponsor a bill that would eliminate criminal penalties for health providers who perform abortions.

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