REMARKS BY VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS IN A ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION WITH MASSACHUSETTS STATE LEGISLATORS ON REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much, Rebecca. Thank you. Well, good afternoon, everyone.
Governor, I appreciate the role — the national leadership that you have provided on this issue.
Congresswoman Pressley, I’ve watched your work in the halls of Congress and throughout this beautiful state, and I thank you for your leadership.
And to all the leaders who are here, as I said before the press came in, you all are certainly local leaders, statewide leaders, leaders in Massachusetts, but you’re also national leaders. You are leading by example.
The work that is happening here in Massachusetts is a model of work that can and, we believe, should happen around the country, which is born out of the spirit of an appreciation for one of the fundamental principles of our nation, which is the significance of the concept of freedom and liberty and dignity.
So I thank you all. And I’m here to visit with you to hear from you about what you are doing on the ground, how it is working, what your challenges are, and also to talk with you about how we can support this work.
I do believe that this issue is an issue that affects everyone in our nation. And therefore your leadership, by extension, affects people around the country.
So we are here today because we share a fundamental belief that we trust the women of America to make decisions about what is in their best interest. And we believe it is they who should make that decision and not their government. It is that simple.
We believe that when it comes to some of the most intimate decisions that any human being can make about their life and their future, that the government should not interfere with their ability and need to make that decision for themselves — or if they choose, with their loved ones, with their pastor, their priest, their rabbi — with their loved ones. But the government should not be making that decision for them.
I also strongly believe that, on this issue, to stand for these principles of freedom and liberty does not require anyone to abandon their faith or their beliefs. This is simply about saying the government should not be making the decision for that person.
So, when we look at where we are, indeed — as you have mentioned, Rebecca — the President and I believe that we are facing a healthcare crisis in America after the Dobbs decision was rendered — a healthcare crisis for many reasons.
In many states, extremist so-called leaders are passing laws that would provide no exception for rape or incest.
I am a former prosecutor who specialized in child sexual assault cases and violence against women. The idea that we would require someone who has endured an extreme act of violence and then subject her to the government’s will without investing in her the self-determination to which she is entitled to make decisions based on what she believes is in her best interests is outrageous.
When we look at this issue, we know that this is — to the point that you made, Rebecca — an issue that also overlaps with many other attacks on our democracy by extremist so-called leaders in our nation.
You have but to look at those states where these attacks are happening on a woman’s right to make decisions about her reproductive healthcare, and you will see from those same so-called leaders attacks on voting rights, from those same so-called leaders attacks on LGBTQ rights.
So, when we think of this issue, it relates to so much that is fundamental to what we have believed until now has been about progress in our nation around the expansion of rights. But this moment requires us to see there are extremist so-called leaders who believe that the way forward is to restrict rights.
There’s so much at stake right now. I applaud the leaders — those just downhome leaders in Kansas for what they just did two nights ago. Because they organized and they spoke volumes. They said, “We trust the women to make decisions about their lives.” And they said, “This is not a partisan issue.”
They spoke loudly and said, “It doesn’t matter who she voted for in the last election or who she plans on voting for in the next election. Don’t take her rights from her and allow the government to replace its priorities for her priorities.”
The vote that occurred in Kansas also made clear what we all know: The majority of Americans agree with this principle.
So, I’ll close by saying that our administration stands with the leaders who are here and with the women of America in a belief that they should be able to make these decisions for themselves.
The President has signed, now, executive orders addressing this issue with a whole-of-government approach that includes Health and Human Services, that includes the United States Department of Justice, that includes the Department of Defense. I thank the Undersecretary for being here.
And we will continue to do the work that is necessary to protect the right of the women of America to make decisions for themselves and not have their government supersede their judgment with its own.
With that, I thank you all. Thank you.