Carole Hoefener Center
Charlotte, North Carolina
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Governor Cooper. And back at you. (Laughter.) Because we have — Roy Cooper and I stood shoulder-to-shoulder fighting for working people of America. And I’ve seen him in rooms when there are no cameras and in rooms when the cameras are on, and he’s always fighting for the people.
So it is my honor and joy to join you yet again as we stand up for the principles that I think we, as Americans, hold dear.
I will also mention what I don’t need to tell all the leaders here, who are not only state leaders but national leaders on so many issues: We got to make sure that Governor Cooper — who is right now the only line of defense in the state house, in terms of his veto power — that we ensure that we give him the support he needs in terms of the legislature so that he can continue to hold the line, as you have been. And thank you for that.
There are certain principles that are at stake on this issue and in this discussion. And one of them is that every woman in America should be free to make decisions about her own body without government interference.
And let’s be frank about this issue: As has been said, to stand for a woman’s right to make one of the most intimate decisions that she can make about her own life without government interference, to agree with the importance of her right and ability to do that does not require you to abandon your faith or your beliefs. It’s to agree that she should be able to make that right without the government telling her what to do.
That really is, as much as anything, what’s at stake here. Every woman should be free to make that decision for herself and, if she chooses, in consultation with her loved one, with her physician, with her pastor, her priest, her rabbi. But the government should not be making this decision for her.
Ultimately, that is what this is about. It’s about one of the most important principles upon which our nation was founded: freedom, liberty — freedom from government interference in the most intimate decisions that are essentially about heart and home. Because when we look at what’s going on right now, let’s understand it is the issue of choice.
But it is an interpretation of the right to privacy that — you know, Clarence Thomas said the quiet part out loud — puts at risk the right to make decisions about contraception, the right to make decisions about who you love in terms of same-sex marriage. All of this is at stake.
So, the United States Supreme Court took a constitutional right, that had been guaranteed and recognized, from the people of America — the women of America. That is also what is at stake.
And as Vice President, I have traveled the world. I have talked with at least 80 prime ministers, presidents, kings around the globe. And when we look at our highest court taking a constitutional right from the people of our country, we must understand what this also means in term of — in terms of what we stand for as a democracy, which has stated certain principles about the rights of individuals to be free from interference by their government. So all of this is at stake.
And we are looking at — in particular, after the Dobbs decision, but even before — extremist so-called leaders around the country who are daring to also pass laws that will not provide an exception for violent criminal acts like rape and incest.
I spent the majority of my career as a prosecutor. And during the time that I was working in courtrooms, a great deal of my focus was on crimes against women and children, including child sexual assault.
And we have so-called leaders who are saying there is no exception for those violent acts, for that woman, for that person to be able to have agency over their own body after they have been a victim of such a heinous act.
These are the issues that are at stake right now in our country. This is what’s happening right now in our country.
And so, yes, the President has signed an executive order to say that we, in terms of the federal government, will do what we must and what we can through the executive branch to protect a woman’s legal right, in terms of interstate travel, to protect access to medication.
But we have three coequal branches of government. The Court has acted now. Now it is time for Congress to act and to codify the protections of Roe, which means to put it into law at a national level.
And this is also going to require us to look to the leaders in the states to do what the leaders here in North Carolina, at this table and elsewhere, have been doing: to have the courage to stand up for the rights of women and the rights of the American people to make certain decisions for themselves.
And so, I’m here to thank you all. You are fighting on the frontlines, including our courageous service providers. And we are in this together.
I will emphasize again — you know, I asked my team to do a Venn diagram for me of where we are seeing attacks and who are the attacks against and the similarity. And if you look at attacks on a woman’s right to choose, attacks against the LGBTQ community, attacks on voting rights — it’s very interesting to see a lot of them are coming from the same source.
And so that’s also to say that let’s bring folks together, understanding that on this issue, as well as so many others, we all have so much more in common than what separates us, in terms of the need to stand up for these rights against those who have decided to attack them, and to do so fighting for the best of who we are as a country.
And with that, I look forward to our discussion.
And, again, I thank you. I’m here to listen as much as I am to share with you my thoughts because, truly, we have extraordinary leaders here in this beautiful state.
So with that, thank you all. And I think we should begin our discussion.
Okay, thank you. (Applause.)