Fountain Street Church
Grand Rapids, Michigan

2:11 P.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Governor.  (Applause.)  Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Let me start by thanking the governor.  The last time I saw you, we were together at my home.  And your leadership in this state and your national leadership has been extraordinary.  And you and I have been talking about many issues over the years in our collective fight to secure the rights and the freedoms of the American people.

And you and your legislature — the Michigan legislature have been extraordinary and a real role model for the country about what leadership looks like on this and so many other issues.  So, it’s my honor and pleasure to be with you, Governor. 

I also want to recognize Senator Stabenow, who I had the great honor of working with in the United States Senate.  I think Michigan knows the senator well, but she really is extraordinary.  She is such a fighter.  I worked with her — I — everybody is laughing because they know her, right?  (Laughter.)  

Debbie Stabenow, I’m telling you, whether the cameras are on or whether they’re off, she’s the same person.  She cares so deeply about the working people of America, the women of America.  And you’ve been a dear friend to the President and me and such a courageous national leader, as well as a leader here in Michigan, Debbie.  So, thank you.  It’s great to be with you. 

And Representative Scholten, today is her birthday.  (Laughter and applause.)  I will not lead the press in singing “Happy Birthday” to you.  (Laughter.)  But I — I want to thank you as well for your courage in the United States Congress and the work you are doing on this and so many other issues. 

The congresswoman also, as we were — she — she honored me by driving in from the airport with me to — to be here at the church today, Reverend, and made a point of looking out the window and telling me everything that she would like to make sure that we are addressing from Washington, D.C.  (Laughter.)  So, she is definitely doing the people’s work. 

And — and to all the leaders who are here, I thank you, each of you.  The Administrator, I want to thank you always.


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Freedom is fundamental to the promise of America.  And what we saw over a year ago is the highest court in our land, the United States Supreme Court — the Court of Thurgood and RBG — took a constitutional right that had been recognized from the people of America, from the women of America. 

And since that ruling came down, we have seen states across our country — thankfully, not Michigan — but states across our country proposing and passing laws that criminalize doctors and nurses.  Some provide for prison for life for healthcare professionals providing reproductive care to their patients. 

We have seen laws being passed that make no exception even for rape and incest, which means these so-called leaders who are extremists are telling a survivor of a crime of violence to someone’s body — a survivor of a violation to their body that they — that survivor — have no right to make a decision about what happens to their body next, which, in my opinion, is immoral. 

We know that, on this issue, the American people — the majority of American people agree with the leaders at this table, by the way, which is that one does not have to give up or — or in any way abandon their faith or deeply held beliefs to agree the government should not be telling her what to do with her body.  If she chooses, she will consult with her priest, her pastor, her rabbi, her imam.  But it should not be the government telling people what to do with their bodies. 

And what we have seen on this issue is, over the course of now a year and almost a half, people who are suffering every day in our country as a result of this. 

So, not only is it about freedoms that have been taken and what that means in a country that prides itself on being a democracy that upholds and fights for freedoms and liberty.  It means that in states across our country, people have been suffering. 

And we must be explicit about what that is, because this is not a hypothetical point. 

Women have been giving — having miscarriages in toilets in our country, have been denied access to emergency care because of what has been happening. 

And then, as the governor said most recently, putting access to IVF at risk.  Think about that.  Individuals, couples who want to start a family are now being deprived of access to what can help them start a family. 

So, on the one hand, the proponents are saying that an individual doesn’t have a right to end an unwanted pregnancy and, on the other hand, the individual does not have a right to start a family. 

And the hypocrisy abounds on this issue when you also consider that in the top 10 states with maternal mortality, there are abortion bans.  I have often challenged the folks in those states who propose to say that an abortion ban is in the best interest of women and children.  Ask them why have they been so silent on an issue like maternal mortality, where, in our country, Black women are three to four times more likely to die in connection with childbirth than other women; Native women, twice as likely; women in rural America, similarly, more likely.

So, this is an issue that is about fundamental freedoms and liberty.  And it is an issue about harm — real harm that is happening to people every day in our country.  And one must then ask, “Well, okay, how did this happen?”  And I would say: Ask who’s to blame.  And I’ll answer that question. 

When you look at the fact that the previous President of the United States was clear in his intention to handpick three Supreme Court justices who would overturn the protections of Roe v. Wade, and he did it.  And that’s what got us to this point today.

And that same individual, the previous President of the United States, then openly talks about how he is proud of what has resulted.  Proud of the fact that doctors and nurses can be jailed for giving reproductive care?  Proud of the fact that women are being forced into situations where they could — literally, their life is at stake in terms of having a miscarriage and not being able to have the — the medically required treatment?  Proud of the fact that so many young women in America now have fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers?

So, this is a very real issue.  And I thank, again, the governor and the Michigan legislature for all you have done. 

But do understand: The people of Michigan cannot sit back and take comfort without also understanding that elections matter and that there is a full-on, concerted effort to pass a national ban, which would mean the people of Michigan would not be as safe. 

And so, let’s understand the connection between all of these issues and the responsibility and the role that we each have to protect these fundamental freedoms and — and the people of America to be able to make decisions about their own lives and — and the future of their family.

And, with that, I want to thank everyone again.  And I’m going to turn it over to Representative Scholten to moderate our discussion.

END                 2:30 P.M. EST

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