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Previously, Harris also cosponsored several other pieces of legislation on the topic of maternal health, including the Modernizing Obstetric Medicine Standards (MOMS) Act, the Maximizing Outcomes for Moms through Medicaid Improvement and Enhancement of Services (MOMMIES) Act, and the Healthy Maternity and Obstetric Medicine Act.
On abortion access and reproductive health:
Harris has been clear that she wants to make sure people have access to reproductive health care, including abortions. She holds a 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America and received support from Emily’s List, an organization dedicated to getting pro-choice women elected to office, during her presidential campaign.
“There are states that have passed laws that will virtually prevent women from having access to reproductive health care,” Harris said during the October 15 Democratic debate last year. “It’s not an exaggeration to say women will die because these Republican legislatures in these various states, who are out of touch with America, are telling women what to do with their bodies.”
Additionally, Harris previously cosponsored the Women’s Health Protection Act, which is modeled after the Voting Rights Act. The bill would require states that have severely limited abortion access in the past to get preclearance from the federal government before enacting more restrictions.
Harris, along with everyone else on the Democratic debate stage, also said she wants to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which currently restricts the use of federal funds to pay for abortions except in a few specific circumstances. During the debate, Harris challenged Biden on his own record on the Hyde Amendment.
On drug policy:
This is one area in which Harris’s positions have changed quite a bit over the course of her career. Once known as California’s top cop, Harris previously opposed marijuana (cannabis) legalization in the state. But more recently, Harris has embraced the idea of cannabis legalization—especially as a means to address racial inequities and end mass incarceration in the U.S.
In 2018, Harris cosponsored the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. “The fact is, marijuana laws are not applied and enforced in the same way for all people,” she wrote on Twitter. “That’s why I’ve signed onto @CoryBooker’s Marijuana Justice Act to make marijuana legal at the federal level. It’s the smart thing to do.”
In addition to decriminalizing and descheduling cannabis at the federal level, the MORE Act would establish a few social and reparative justice measures. For instance, the act would create a grant program to provide job training, legal aid, and health education programs for those most impacted by the war on drugs. The bill is also retroactive, meaning that it would expunge many old cannabis-related convictions.
Earlier this year, Harris advocated for cannabis businesses to be able to access federal COVID-19 relief funds just like any other small business.
On policing and police brutality:
Police brutality, which disproportionately affects Black and brown people in the U.S., is a public health crisis. During her time as a district attorney and attorney general, Harris adopted several “tough on crime” strategies that have drawn criticism.
In 2015, Harris declined to support legislation that would have implemented specific requirements for local police departments that use body cameras, arguing that law enforcement leaders themselves should use their “discretion to figure out what technology they are going to adopt based on needs that they have and resources they have.” Still, it was during Harris’s time as attorney general that the California Department of Justice adopted the country’s first statewide body camera initiative.