Watch CBSN Live

Kamala Harris wants new state laws on abortion to be vetted by Justice Department

Sen. Kamala Harris wants states that have attempted to pass anti-abortion laws in the past to have to clear any new laws concerning the practice with the Department of Justice. 

The Democratic presidential hopeful will announce her new abortion rights plan Tuesday night, according to a campaign official. The plan calls for what Harris calls "preclearance" by the Justice Department of any new abortion laws in "states and localities" that "have a pattern of violating Roe v. Wade in the preceding 25 years." 

In other words, before any new abortion law can take effect, these states and localities would need have to seek the Justice Department's approval first, to ensure that the new law is compliant with Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. The abortion laws would also have to adhere to the Women's Health Protection Act, a measure that if passed, would prevent some anti-abortion laws from taking effect at the state level. 

The campaign says that the "preclearance" provision is modeled after a similar requirement in the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Act required certain jurisdictions to clear any new laws concerning voting with either the attorney general or the U.S. District Court for D.C. 

Numerous states have passed strict anti-abortion laws in recent weeks. In Alabama, Republican Gov. Kay Ivey has signed legislation that would outlaw the procedure altogether. 

Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Ohio have also enacted or neared approval of measures barring abortion once there's a detectable fetal heartbeat, which can occur in the sixth week of pregnancy, before a woman may know she's pregnant, according to previous CBS News reporting.

Sens. Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren have introduced plans to codify abortion laws in Congress, meaning that abortion would stay legal nationwide regardless of how the Supreme Court rules on the subject. When asked about the codifying abortion laws at a rally in Los Angeles earlier this month, Harris told CBS News that it was "a great idea, but the reality of it is that this is a decision that is ultimately going to be decided in the courts and as it has been in the past." 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue