Vice president holds College Park abortion rights rally with all the trappings of a campaign event

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COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND - JUNE 24: U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks on reproductive rights at Ritchie Coliseum on the campus of the University of Maryland on June 24, 2024 in College Park, Maryland. Harris is speaking on the two year anniversary of the Dobbs decision, the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade and struck down federal abortion protections. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)(Getty Images/Kevin Dietsch)

Vice President Kamala Harris (D)  stood in Ritchie Coliseum at the University of Maryland, College Park underneath a blue banner that said “Trust WOMEN” in large white text.

Just underneath, in significantly smaller text, was a disclaimer: “Paid for by Biden for President.”

At the Monday campaign event doubling as an abortion rights rally, supporters held hundreds of “Biden-Harris” or “reproductive freedom” signs. In the upcoming general election, Democrats insist their candidates, not Republicans, will ensure that Marylanders and voters across the United States have access to abortion care.

Harris wasted little time, telling the enthusiastic crowd that a second presidency for Republican Donald Trump would pose a threat to reproductive rights across the country. The rally came on the second anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, which had guaranteed abortion access as a constitutional right for nearly 50 years.

“Today, our daughters know fewer rights than their grandmothers. This is a health care crisis. And we all know who is to blame: Donald Trump,” Harris said.

“He proudly takes credit for overturning Roe,” she said, noting that Trump appointed three justices who were key to reversing Roe. “My fellow Americans, in a court of law, that would be called an admission, and some would say a confession…. In the case of stealing reproductive freedom away from the women of America, Donald Trump is guilty.”

The event also effectively functioned as a rally for Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) in her run against former Gov. Larry Hogan (R) to represent Maryland in the U.S. Senate.

Harris gave a shout out to her “dear friend” Alsobrooks, whose Senate candidacy the vice president endorsed earlier this month.

If successful, Alsobrooks would be the first Black woman to represent Maryland in the U.S. Senate, a glass ceiling that would echo Harris’s historic election as the first woman, the first Black American, and the first South Asian American to serve as vice president.

The question of abortion is expected to have an outsized role in the campaign for Maryland’s Senate seat, which has become an unexpectedly tough race in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 2-to-1.

“Today is more than just an anniversary. It’s proof that we should never take for granted our liberties,” Alsobrooks said. “It is the confirmation that we must be vigilant in fighting for and protecting, with everything we have, our rights.”

Alsobrooks took some jabs at her opponent, saying that Republicans hope Hogan is the key to securing a conservative majority in Congress.

“They believe that Larry Hogan is the best opportunity that the Republicans have to get the 51st vote,” in the Senate, she said. “In fact, Donald Trump endorsed him because the two of them share something in common … they share the goal of handing the over the Senate to the Republican Party.”

Trump has said in recent days that he believes the question of abortion restrictions should be left up to the states, a key part of the Dobbs decision. And Hogan, who has long said he is personally pro-life, has insisted that as senator he would defend Roe-style abortion protections.

He reiterated that in a statement posted Monday on his campaign website in recognition of the second anniversary of Dobbs, saying that he would work in the Sentate “to codify Roe v. Wade, as the law of the land.”

“A woman’s health care decisions are her own. Whether it be the decision to start a family with the help of IVF, or exercise her reproductive rights, nothing and no one—especially partisan politics—should come between a woman and her doctor,” according to the written statement.

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who spoke at Monday’s rally, went to bat for Alsobrooks and said that she would be the best choice to protect abortion access in the U.S. Senate. He ridiculed Hogan’s recent promises to support Roe-style abortion protections.

“Her opponent Larry Hogan is undergoing some election year conversion like none I’ve ever seen,” Van Hollen said. “This guy now goes around saying that he’s quote, ‘pro-choice.’ The problem is he has a record that tells us the exact opposite.”

Democrats, including Alsobrooks, have criticized Hogan’s claims on abortion rights, pointing to his previous actions as Maryland governor.

Hogan vetoed a measure in 2022 that would have expanded abortion access in the state. When the legislature overrode his veto, Hogan withheld state funding to train nonphysicians to perform abortions, funding that Gov. Wes Moore (D) released on his first day in office in 2023.

“So now we see Larry Hogan bobbing and weaving. Zigging and zagging. Flipping and flopping,” Van Hollen said. “And as we watch this, we know one thing’s for sure: Marylanders just cannot trust Larry Hogan with this one.”

Hogan’s campaign — which released a video Monday criticizing Alsobrooks’ record on crime as county executive — pushed back on the characterization that he has “flipped” on supporting Roe v. Wade.

“Governor Hogan protected choice in Maryland for eight years as Governor, funding access to abortion in the budget every year and being the first governor in America to provide over-the-counter birth control paid for by Medicaid,” according to an email from the campaign. “In the Senate, Governor Hogan will work to reinstate Roe v. Wade as the law of the land.”

Maryland Matters is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Maryland Matters maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Steve Crane for questions: Follow Maryland Matters on Facebook and X.

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