Remarks by Vice President Harris During the “Fight for Reproductive Freedoms” Tour | Savannah, GA | The White House
Savannah Civic Center
1:26 P.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, Savannah. Good afternoon. Oh, it is good to be back in Georgia. Thank you all.
Let — can we please give it up for President McDonald and all of your work — (applause) — and your leadership. Truly. And I want to thank you for all of your courage and your tireless work.
Mr. Mayor, where are you? He was — there is — there is our mayor. He — he greeted me on the tarmac when I landed on Air Force Two. (Applause.) He has been such a friend to our administration and a great national leader. And, Mayor, I want to thank you for your powerful leadership of this great city. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you.
And I know they’re working hard in Washington, but I want to recognize Senator Raphael Warnock — (applause) — and Senator Jon Ossoff. (Applause.) They’re in D.C. today for votes, but I will say, Georgia, you have two extraordinary senators. (Applause.) And they are always fighting on behalf of the people of this state.
And to all of the leaders who are here — and there are so several — I want to thank all of you for the work that you do to — to uphold one of our nation’s highest and most important ideals. And that is the ideal of freedom. Freedom.
Freedom is fundamental to the promise of America — to the promise of America. Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Freedom of assembly. The freedom to vote.
In America, freedom is not to be given. It is not to be bestowed. It is ours by right. (Applause.) By right.
And that includes the freedom to make decisions about one’s own body and not have the government — (applause) — telling people what to do.
Fifty-one years ago, in the case of Roe vs. Wade, the United States Supreme Court recognized the fundamental constitutional right to reproductive freedom. And for nearly half a century, Americans relied on the freedoms protected by Roe.
However, 19 months ago, the highest court in our land — the court of Thurgood and RBG — (applause) — right? — took a constitutional right that had been recognized from the people of America, from the women of America. And now, we must speak of Roe in the past tense.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: In states across our nation, extremists have proposed and passed laws that criminalize doctors and punish women.
Laws that threaten doctors and nurses with prison time, including right here in Georgia, even for life — in some states, prison for life — simply for providing healthcare. Laws that in some states make no exception even for rape and incest.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Now, I know it’s a difficult conversation to have, but we need to face reality. Right?
As several of us know, and several of you may know —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: — I started —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Shame on you! You’re committing genocide! You’re committing genocide! (Inaudible.)
AUDIENCE: Kamala! Kamala! Kamala!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It’s okay.
AUDIENCE: Kamala! Kamala! Kamala!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
AUDIENCE: Kamala! Kamala! Kamala!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you all. Thank you. Thank you all.
And we know, in a healthy democracy, we value the freedom of all people to be heard. And — but right now, we are talking about a different issue, and that is the issue of what has happened to the women and people of America as a result of the Dobbs decision. (Applause.)
So, as I was saying, no exception even for rape or incest. And we must have difficult conversations about what that means.
As several of you know, I started my career as a prosecutor specializing in crimes of violence against women and children. (Applause.) But what several of you may not know is why.
So, when I was in high school, one of my best friends, I learned, was being molested by her stepfather. And when I learned, I said to her, “You got to — you got to come and stay with us.” And I called my mother, and my mother said, “Of course she has to come and stay with us.” And she did.
So, the idea that someone who survives a crime of violence, a violation to their body, might then be told they don’t have the authority to decide what happens to their body next, that’s immoral.
And let us all agree: One does not have to abandon their faith or deeply held beliefs to agree the government should not be telling her what to do with her body. (Applause.)
If she chooses, she will consult with her pastor, her priest, her rabbi, her imam. But it should not be the government telling her what to do. (Applause.)
So, this is, in fact, a healthcare crisis. And in that way, there is nothing about this moment that is hypothetical.
Recently, in America, more than one in three women of reproductive age live in a state with an abortion ban — one in three women of reproductive age live in a state with an abortion ban, including more than 2 and a half million right here in the state of Georgia.
And let us understand what that really means. Let us understand the horrific reality that women face every single day since the Roe decision was overturned.
Folks, I have met women who have had miscarriages in toilets because they were refused care. I met a woman who went to an emergency room during a miscarriage and was turned away repeatedly because the doctors there were afraid they might be put in jail for helping her. And it was only at the point that she developed sepsis that she received care.
Think about this fact: Of the number of women — and this is — this is difficult to talk about, guys. I know that. But this is the reality of what’s happening in our country.
Of the number of women who became pregnant because of rape since this case came down, it is estimated that tens of thousands are in a state with a complete abortion ban.
Now, think about what that means. In Georgia, women face a six-week abortion ban — before several women even know they are pregnant. Which, by the way, tells us these lawmakers e- — either they don’t know how a woman’s body works or they just don’t care. (Applause.)
And in Georgia, because of the way the law is written, no exception for rape or incest unless they file a police report to get permission — to get permission for an abortion after six weeks. Permission.
So, as a former prosecutor, again, we got to break this down. Okay? Here’s what we’re talking about: So, this means she needs to walk into a police department, be questioned by a police officer. If she lives in a small town, it might be somebody she knows. And she will be required — after what she’s been through — required to recount the crime even if she don’t want to talk about it. She will be required to report on someone even though the consequences of that may expose her to more harm, simply because she wants to exercise her right to make a decision about what happens to her body next. Think about what this means.
And for several of these women, all of this means that, in order to access the care they need, they have to leave Georgia — they have to leave their home; they have to leave their family or friends who might be with them through this moment to give them comfort and care — to travel to a state that protects reproductive freedom.
And understand, there’s only one state in the South without an abortion ban: the state of Virginia. In the entire South, one — a six-hour drive from here in Savannah.
Now, the majority of women, we also know, who have abortions are mothers. So, again, let’s break down what this means. For her to travel to receive care, well, God help her if she does not have paid leave or affordable childcare. (Applause.) God help her if she does not have the savings necessary to buy a plane, train, or a bus ticket to get where she can receive the care she wants and needs or to book a hotel room.
And, by the way, while these extremists behind these laws say they are motivated by the health and well-being of women and children — (laughter) — while they say that, they have been silent on the crisis of maternal mortality. (Applause.) Silent.
Georgia has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in our nation. Black women are three to four times more likely to die in connection with childbirth than other women. And the top ten states with the highest rates of maternal mortality all have abortion bans. The hypocrisy abounds.
So, Georgia, there is profound harm happening in our country because of the state of the law. The reality in real time across our country is that for every story we hear, there are so several we don’t.
Recently, an untold number of women are silently suffering — women who are being judged, who are being made to feel as though they did something wrong, that they should be embarrassed, made to feel alone.
And I say, I do believe that, as a nation, that is not what we stand for. I do believe that.
So, I say to these women: We see you, we see your incredible strength, and we are here with you.
And in this healthcare crisis, please do understand who is to blame. The former President, Donald Trump — (applause) — hand-picked three members of the United States Supreme Court
justice because he intended for them to overturn Roe. He intended for them to take your freedoms. And it’s a decision he brags about.
He said, “Well, for years” — and I’m going to quote — “they were trying to get rid of Roe v. Wade — trying to have it terminated.” And then — but he said — I quote — “I did it,” he said. “And I’m proud to have done it,” he said. He is proud.
Proud that women across our nation are suffering? Proud that women have been robbed of a fundamental freedom? Proud that doctors can be thrown in prison — in some cases, for life — for caring for patients? That young women today have fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers? How dare he. (Applause.) How dare he.
Understand, the former President is the architect of this healthcare crisis.
And the extremists are not done. In the United States Congress, extremists tried to pass a national abortion ban to outlaw abortion in every single state.
But what they need to know is that if Congress passes a national abortion ban, President Joe Biden will veto it. (Applause.)
Because here’s the deal about all of us: We trust women. We trust women. We trust women to make decisions about their own body. We trust women to know what is in their own best interest.
And, folks, women trust all of us to fight for their rights — (applause) — and to protect their most fundamental freedoms. And it is going to take all of us. And it is going to take all of us.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We ready!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And we’re ready.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: That’s right! (Inaudible.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (Laughs.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Four more years!
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I see that. (Laughs.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: So, on that point — so, on that point, Joe Biden and I are fighting in court to protect women’s access to medication and emergency care. We are strengthening patient privacy protections so that medical records stay between a woman and her doctor. And we are protecting the right of women to travel for abortion care. And fighting for access to free contraception. (Applause.) Yes.
And the bottom line is: To truly protect reproductive freedoms, we must restore the protections of Roe. What the United States Supreme Court took away, Congress can put back in place. But we must have a majority in the United States Congress who simply agree that the government should not be making those personal decisions for people. (Applause.)
And when Congress passes a law that puts back in the protections of Roe, Joe Biden will sign it. (Applause.)
So, again, I say, it’s going to take all of us to get there — everybody here. And the momentum is on our side. We are winning.
Since Roe was overturned, every time reproductive freedom has been on the ballot, the people of America have voted for freedom. From Kansas to California to Kentucky, in Michigan and Montana and Vermont and Ohio — (applause) — the American people have voted for freedom. And not by a little but by overwhelming majorities.
Proving, also, by the way — and I say that to whichever political pundits might be behind those cameras — (laughter) — proving, also, that it is not a partisan issue. Tens of millions of Americans, in red states and blue, marched to the polls in defense of fundamental freedoms.
And so, with that, I say, the voice of the people has been heard, and it will be heard.
And then I say — and ask, in conclusion: Georgia, are you ready to make your voices heard? (Applause.)
Do we trust women? (Applause.)
Do we believe in reproductive freedom? (Applause.)
Do we believe in the promise of America? (Applause.)
And are we ready to fight for it? (Applause.)
And when we fight, we win!
God bless you. God bless America. Thank you, all. (Applause.)
END 1:44 P.M. EST
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