Remarks By Vice President Harris In A Roundtable Discussion With New Jersey State Legislators On Reproductive Rights
Atlantic City Convention Center
Atlantic City, New Jersey
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Madam Administrator, and to all the leaders here for, out of your busy schedules and all that you are addressing right now, to join in this conversation. We have here leaders who are national leaders, in addition to being state and local leaders — elected leaders, community leaders, organization leaders, stakeholders. And so I thank you all.
Every woman in America should be free to make decisions about their life, in terms of, in particular, the choices that they have and should be able to have about their reproductive health.
And with the Dobbs decision, the United States Supreme Court took a recognized constitutional right from the people on America, from the women of America. And we do believe, I do believe this is a national healthcare crisis.
When we look at this issue, every woman should be able to make decisions about their bodies and their life without government interference, and if they so choose, in consultation with their pastor, their priest, their rabbi, their family, their physician.
What we are seeing around the country are extremist so-called leaders who are passing laws with the intention of criminalizing public health professionals, punishing women for making decisions that are intimate, private decisions that should be protected, in terms of the privacy and the autonomy with which women should be able to live and have the power over the most intimate issues that could affect their lives.
And I think it’s important to note that you don’t have to abandon your faith or your beliefs to agree that the government should not be interfering with her decision, that woman’s decision, over her body and her life.
The government should not be interfering, and no one has to abandon their faith or their belief to agree that certain decisions are not the government’s to make, and that is one of them.
So the President feels very strongly about this issue. And our administration is fighting at a national level to protect the health, the safety, and the wellbeing of women.
President Biden recently signed executive orders to protect women’s access to abortion by medication, and also, we are taking executive action to ensure that women are protected in terms of their constitutional right to interstate travel.
In addition, we are demanding that the United States Congress codify Roe, which means put into law the protections that Roe provided.
But we know that this fight is not only at a national level, it is also at a state level. I have been traveling around the country. I have met with leaders from many states that are directly impacted by these laws.
There is an election coming up in 113 days. And those elections will matter at every level. Who is your district attorney will matter. Who is your governor will matter. Who is your attorney general will matter. Who is the secretary of state will matter.
So I urge everyone to pay attention to this election and understand that right now, with the Court’s decision, a lot of the rules and the laws that are being put in place are occurring and the enforcement of those laws occurring at a local and state level.
So, do pay attention to these elections coming up in, again, about 113 days, I believe.
And — and that brings me to why we are here today in New Jersey. I have, in — in the travels and conversations that we’ve been having, looking for national models of what is working in the face of what’s not working. And the legislators who are here today, and their colleagues and others and — and the attorney general, have been doing model work here in New Jersey in protecting a woman’s ability to make decisions about her body.
I will also note that, here in New Jersey, there is also work that is highlighting the Venn diagram, if you will, around these issues in that we are finding that in many of the states where there is an intent and there is work being done to deprive women of their right to make decisions about their own reproductive health and their care, the same people, and in those same states, we are finding laws being passed to restrict the ability of people to vote.
And, again, here in New Jersey, you all are doing some outstanding work to expand the right to vote to ensure that all people who are entitled to vote will be able to do so in an unfettered way.
And so I look forward to lifting up the work that you all have been doing here to protect these fundamental rights.
I will also add that it is my firm belief that the Dobbs decision is just the beginning of what is an agenda that is about also attacking other rights that flow from the right to privacy, including access to contraception and same-sex marriage.
And so when we think about this issue, let us understand that it has wide-ranging impact. And we, as the American people who believe in the strength and the purpose of a democracy, we who believe that the Constitution of the United States was designed to protect certain fundamental rights, we must understand what is at stake — all of us — in this moment and, for that reason, stand up and fight for the right of everyone to have their constitutional rights protected.
So with that, I thank you all again, and I’m looking forward to our discussion. And I’ll turn it back to the administrator to — to lead that discussion.