Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Madam Leader, thank you for that introduction. That means a lot to me.
I want to thank all of the leaders who are at this table. Pennsylvania has so much at stake on this issue, and you all have not only been local and state leaders but national leaders in defending, fighting for, and protecting the rights of the American people.
And as Madam Leader said, we are looking at an extraordinary moment in the history of our nation and our democracy.
When the United States Supreme Court took a constitutional right, that had been recognized, from the women of America, that alone is so deeply harmful to our nation that prides itself on being a defender of freedoms and liberty - the very principles upon which we were founded. And I don't need to tell anybody in this city how it all started and what it meant from the beginning.
So I thank you for, on this Saturday morning, coming together so we can discuss what is at stake and what we are collectively prepared to do to fight for the rights of the American people when it comes to this issue about a woman's right to make decisions about her own body and her life.
And it must be understood that on this subject, we are not asking anyone to compromise their beliefs or abandon their faith. We are simply saying the government should not be in the position nor should the government have the power to replace its beliefs for those of the woman. That's what we are saying.
We are talking about a situation in our nation right now where states and so-called leaders are passing laws that would criminalize medical health professionals, healthcare providers. We are talking about several states in our nation who will not allow an exception for rape or incest.
And, Madam Leader, as you know and I know - as a former prosecutor who specialized, for a great part of my career, in crimes against women and children, including child sexual assault - we know what this means.
We have heard the more public recent stories about what this means to real people, real human beings, not to mention the stories that have not been told and have yet to be told.
So the impact of this moment and what so-called leaders are doing in states around our country is having a direct impact on so many people who should have a right to make the most intimate decision that one could make, to be able to make that for themselves and, if they so choose, in consultation with their loved ones, with their pastor, their priest, with their rabbi, but not having their government tell them what they're supposed to do.
So, at a national level, we are going to do everything we can to push for - and we have some of the most esteemed members of the United States Congress at this table - what we can do at a national level to codify, which means put into law, the protections that Roe provided.
I think we all know and applaud our President for saying he will not allow the filibuster to get in the way of doing what is necessary in that regard.
And short of, then, what happens in terms of recognizing that the Court has acted, now Congress needs to act; there is also what we can do at a state and local level. And so that's why we are all convened today.
Here in Pennsylvania, I want to again thank the leaders who are at this table, because I know you are fighting against great odds and that you are undeterred and that you are standing in defense of, again, these most fundamental rights.
I want to also thank the Governor Wolf for what he has done in his role as a leader; the Attorney General, Josh Shapiro, for what he has done as Attorney General to fight for the principles and the people that have so much at stake right now.
And so, with that, I thank the press for being here. And I bid you a good day. And we are now going to begin our discussion. Thank you all.
But we will find - start with a discussion with some of the leaders who are here at the table.