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Kamala Harris to speak at Essence Festival, expected to discuss Roe overturn


(WASHINGTON) — Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to New Orleans on Saturday to take part in the Essence Festival of Culture.

According to White House officials, Harris will speak in “a fireside conversation with Emmy-winning actress and leading millennial voice Keke Palmer, where the Vice President will speak to the most critical issues facing Black women, including the implications of the Supreme Court’s decision on [Roe v. Wade].”

“This will be the largest audience the Vice President has addressed since the Court’s decision last Friday,” the officials said.

The Supreme Court on June 24 overturned the landmark ruling that legalized abortion access nationwide for the past five decades.

Harris responded to the repeal of Roe that day, stating it was “the first time in the history of our nation that a constitutional right has been taken from the people of America.”

“This is a health care crisis, because understand, millions of women in America will go to bed tonight without access to the health care and reproductive care that they had this morning; without access to the same healthcare or reproductive healthcare that their mothers and grandmothers had for 50 years,” she said during a visit to Plainfield, Illinois.

Harris also said the decision could impact other privacy rights, including precedent on contraception and same-sex marriage.

“The great aspiration of our nation has been to expand freedom, but the expansion of freedom clearly is not inevitable,” the vice president said.

The Biden administration has taken some steps to protect access to care. The Justice Department said it will protect women traveling across state lines for abortion services and Health and Human Services is working to ensure access to federally-approved medication such as contraception and the abortion pill mifepristone.

President Joe Biden met with Democratic governors on Friday to discuss additional efforts to safeguard reproductive care and women’s rights.

But the president has said it’s up to Congress to make Roe federal law, and without a carveout to the Senate filibuster it’s unlikely any attempt to do so by Democrats will fail.

Democratic leaders have also said it’s up to voters to elect more representatives who support abortion rights.

“You have the power to elect leaders who will defend and protect your rights,” Harris said last week.

The Essence Festival of Culture kicked off on Thursday and will run through Sunday, featuring performances by Kevin Hart, Nicki Minak, Janet Jackson and more.

Harris, the first female and Black vice president, last spoke at the festival in 2019, when she was running for the Democratic nomination for president.

While in New Orleans, Harris will also meet privately with leaders of reproductive justice organizations.

ABC News’ Molly Nagle contributed to this report.

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