Remarks by Vice President Harris During Roundtable Discussion on Protecting and Expanding Reproductive Rights

Published: Fri Sep 16 2022

University of Illinois Chicago
Chicago, Illinois

1:08 P.M. CDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, good afternoon, everyone. I want to thank you all for taking the time to be here for this important convening.

Governor, I thank you for the leadership you have been providing this state. You and I have had many conversations around the Dobbs decision, and you really have been not only a leader for Illinois, but a national leader on this issue. So thank you for that.

Mayor Lightfoot, thank you always for welcoming back to your beautiful city and for your leadership, because truly, there is so much about this issue that highlights the need for local leadership in addition to statewide and national leadership.

General Raoul, I want to thank you not only for the work that you've been doing here in Illinois, but for being a leader amongst attorneys general. The meeting that we had when you came to D.C. with other attorneys general on this issue meant a lot in terms of how we know we want to coordinate around the law and what we can do in terms of defending constitutional freedoms.

So, to everyone, thank you for being here.

So, we are here because, as we all know, with the Dobbs decision, the United States Supreme Court - the highest court in the land - took a constitutional right from the people of America, from the women of America.

And we are, in the wake of that decision, facing a healthcare crisis in America that requires us all to speak up and do everything we can to ensure that we will fight to protect a woman's right to make decisions about her own body.

This issue raises many fundamental princip- - principles about who we are as a country, including the principle of freedom, and liberty, self-determination, and bodily autonomy.

We must agree that the women of America have the ability to exercise their own judgment in making decisions about their own body and that the government should not be making that decision for her.

And it bears noting, one does not have to give up their faiths or religious beliefs to agree that the government should not be making that decision for her.

So we convened today to talk about we - in each of our respective positions of leadership, what we can do individually and collectively to address this issue and, frankly, this injustice.

We do so understanding that the work that happens on this issue will require the kind of leadership our President has provided in terms of the executive orders that he has signed recognizing constitutional rights to travel and access to healthcare.

But also it is through the leadership of governors, like Governor Pritzker, that we look to for what states like Illinois have been and continue to do to not only provide for the women of this state, but, as the governor has said - and he and I have talked about this - under his leadership, to be a safe haven for women around the state, in neighboring and surrounding states.

In fact, I look at what's happening in Illinois, Governor, and - and you all are, without any question, being stretched thin, in terms of your healthcare resources going directly to your constituents, but to neighboring states as well.

In fact, when I look at a map of the country and the neighborhood in which you exist, there's no question to me that you are helping women from states like Indiana and Kentucky and Missouri and Tennessee and Wisconsin, in addition to the women of Illinois. So I thank you for that.

But I also recognize that when we are seeing - as we have been - women from neighboring states going to those states that are protecting the constitutional right of women, that it makes a statement also about the fact that the women of those states that are banning access to reproductive healthcare need that healthcare, want that healthcare. And in spite of that, are being denied access to that healthcare in their own states.

So we will continue to work together - all of us. And we do recognize this is just the beginning, both in terms of the movement that we are in to fight for reproductive healthcare for all people, but also recognizing that, frankly, Justice Clarence Thomas said the quiet part out loud, which is, with the Dobbs decision, we are also looking at a very high likelihood of a risk to the right to contraception, same-sex marriage.

So, to that end, we know that this is also an opportunity to build coalition around all people who are directly affected or who care about those who are affected when it comes to these attacks.

And again, I thank all of the leaders who are here.

And my final point will be: Elections matter. Elections matter. We have a midterm coming up in 53 days.

Who is your governor matters. Whether they're going to protect these rights and support these rights to freedom and liberty, it matters.

Who is your attorney general matters. Whether they are going to protect and defend the principles ingrained in the Constitution of the United States, that matters.

Who your local prosecutor is matters if you are in a place that has, as many are attempting to do, criminalized healthcare providers and are attempting to punish women.

So I encourage everyone to exercise your right to express your voice on this issue through your vote in 53 days.

And with that, I thank everyone. And, Governor, I will now pass the mic over to you.

END 1:14 P.M. CDT

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