US Vice President Harris and actress Priyanka Chopra discuss manslaughter and abortion rights

WASHINGTON, Sept 30 (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday reminded leading female Democrats of their duty to fight for reproductive rights and how the election of two more Democratic senators in the upcoming midterm elections is essential to this fight.

“If there was a reason this group existed in recent memory, now is the time,” Harris said at the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Forum on Friday in Washington.

“We need to do everything we can in the next 39 days to remind people what’s at stake in this election,” she told a panel moderated by actress Priyanka Chopra.

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Chopra started the session with a swipe at men condescending to women. Pointing to the silence in the room, she quipped “Do you hear that sound? It’s the sound of no complaints, ladies.” Earlier this month, President Joe Biden promised Democrats would codify abortion rights into law if two more Democratic senators were elected to the U.S. Senate midterm on November 8, saying it would open up the possibility to remove the filibuster, a legislative roadblock that requires a majority of 60 votes to overcome.

The Senate is now split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, with Harris’ decisive vote as vice president giving Democrats limited control. But two Democratic senators opposed ending the filibuster.

Abortion became a major issue for voters across the country after the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in June struck down abortion rights enshrined nearly 50 years earlier in Roe v. Wade.

Almost half of the states have banned, imposed limits or attempted to ban abortion. Some Republicans, like Senator Lindsey Graham earlier this month, have proposed a nationwide ban on abortions after 15 weeks or in the second trimester of a pregnancy.

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Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler

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