South Mountain Community Center
Phoenix, Arizona

4:38 P.M. MST

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everyone.  (Applause.)

Good afternoon.  Good afternoon.  Oh, it’s good to be back in Arizona.  Good af- —

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!  Four more years!  

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  We will get four more years, won’t we?  (Laughs.) 

I want to thank President Florez for her incredible work.  And, of course, the words I — I just said to her — I thank her for stepping up to serve at this moment in the history of our country, because these truly are challenging times. 

And for all the leaders who are here, the courage that you show every day to do this work is extraordinary.  And you do this work on behalf of people we may never meet and people who may never know our names.  But because of your advocacy and your fight, they will forever be benefited. 

So, I thank everyone here for your leadership.  And all the extraordinary leaders are here, including Secretary Becerra, who is here.

Your mayor, Kate Gallego — (applause) — I have to tell you, she’s so wonderful.  She met me on the tarmac as I landed on Air Force Two, and she’s been talking with me about all the work — all the good work that she is doing here.  I thank you, Mayor.

Congressman Greg Stanton is here — (applause) — a powerful voice for this city and, in particular, on the issue of public transit and water infrastructure.  And, by the way, today is his birthday.  (Applause.)  Yes.  Okay.  So, we all wished him a happy birthday. 

And, of course, my dear friend Ruben Gallego wanted to be here today, the congressman.  He — I saw him last night in Washington at the President’s State of the Union.  I’ve known him for a while.  And I have to say that the congressman, he is a tireless fighter for the people and the families of Arizona. 

So, we are thinking of him.  And he has been a true leader — a national leader to the President and me in terms of his advice and friendship. 

I also want to thank all the organizers in Arizona who are collecting signatures — (applause) — to uphold one of our nation’s highest ideals.  Thank you, all.  This makes a huge difference. 

And, of course, you are fighting for the ideal of freedom — freedom — freedom.  It is fundamental to the promise of America: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom of assembly, and the freedom to vote. 

And in America, freedom is not to be given.  It is not to be bestowed.  It is ours by right. 

And that, of course, includes the freedom to make decisions about one’s own body — not the government telling people what to do.  (Applause.) 

So, 51 years ago, in the case of Roe v. Wade, the United States Supreme Court recognized the fundamental constitutional right to reproductive freedom.  However, almost two years ago, the highest court in our land — 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 now we must speak of Roe in the past tense.

In states across our nation, extremists have proposed and passed laws that criminalize doctors and punish women — laws that threaten doctors and nurses with prison time, even for life, simply for providing healthcare.  Laws like those in Arizona that make no exception even for rape or incest. 

Now, as many of you know, I started my career as a prosecutor specializing in crimes of violence against women and children.  What you may not know is why. 

So, when I was in high school, my best friend, I learned, was being molested by her stepfather.  And so, I said to her, “Look, you’ve got to come stay with us.”  I called my mother, and my mother said, “Absolutely.  She has come stay with us.”  And she did. 

So, the idea that someone who survives a crime of violence to their body, a violation of their body, would then be told they don’t have the authority to make a decision about what happens to their body next — that is immoral.  That is immoral.  (Applause.)

And today, of course, in some states, extremists even attack the freedom to use IVF treatment — women and couples denied the ability to fulfill their dream of having a child. 

And please let us consider the irony.  On the one hand, these extremists tell women they do not have the freedom to end an unwanted pregnancy.  And on the other hand, these extremists tell women they don’t have the freedom to start a family. 

Let us all agree: One does not have to abandon —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Let us all agree — let us all agree: One does not have to abandon their faith or deeply held beliefs to agree the government should not be telling her what to do with her body.  (Applause.)

And this is, in fact, a healthcare crisis.  There is nothing hypothetical about this moment.  Today in America, one in three women of reproductive age live in a state with an abortion ban — one in three women of reproductive age. 

And that number is even higher for Latinas.  Forty percent of Latinas live in a state where abortion is banned, including right here in Arizona, where extremist legislators passed an abortion ban with no exception for rape or incest. 

And right now, other extremists, as you have heard and know, are in court trying to bring back a law from 1864 that would completely ban abortion in Arizona — 1864.  Understand: 1864, before women had the right to vote, before women could own property, before Arizona was even admitted as a state.

Look, these extremists, they’re trying to take women back to the 1800s.  But we’re not going to let them.  (Applause.)  We’re not going to let them.  We are not going to let them.

And let us understand the impact of laws like these, since Roe was overturned, have created a horrific reality that women in our country are facing every single day.  It is not without harm to real people that this has happened. 

You know, I’ve met women who had miscarriages in toilets because they were refused care.  I met a woman who went to the emergency room during a miscarriage and was turned away repeatedly because the doctors there were afraid they might be put in jail for giving her care.  And it was only when she developed sepsis that they administered care. 

And consider that the majority of women in America are mothers — who have abortions, the majority are mothers.  So, if she lives in a state with an abortion ban and needs to travel to receive care, God help her if she does not have paid leave or affordable childcare or the savings necessary to buy a bus, train, or plane ticket to get where she can receive support and help. 

And, by the way, these extremists say they’re motivated by the health and well-being of women and children while they are silent on the issue of maternal mortality — (applause) — that, in connection with childbirth, women in America die at a higher rate than any women in a wealthy nation around the world. 

The issue of maternal mortality — and they’ve been silent on that, and, all of a sudden, they are the great defenders of women and children.  Consider, on the issue of maternal mortality, that Black women are three times as likely to die in connection with pregnancy, Native women twice as likely, rural women one and a half times as likely. 

And the top 10 states with the highest rates of maternal mortality all have abortion bans, including Arizona.  The hypocrisy abounds. 

And the reality, in real time, across our country is that for every story we hear, there are so many that we do not.  Today, an untold number of women are silently suffering.  Women who are being subjected to profound judgment, women who are being made to feel as though they did something wrong, as though they should be embarrassed, as though they are alone. 

So, to these women, I say: We see you, and we are here with you, and we are always going to stand by you.  You are not alone.  (Applause.) 

And in this healthcare crisis, then, please do understand who is to blame.  The former President, Donald Trump, handpicked three members of the United States Supreme Court because he intended for them to overturn Roe.  He intended for them to take your freedoms, and he brags about it. 

He said that for years, they were, quote, trying to get rid of Roe v. Wade, trying to have it “terminated.”  And then he said, quote, “And I did it, and I’m proud to have done it.”  He is proud. 

Proud that women across our nation are suffering?  Proud that doctors and nurses could be thrown in prison for administering care?  Proud that young women today have fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers?  How dare he?  (Applause.)  

So, let us understand: The former President is the architect of this healthcare crisis.  And the extremists are not done.  In the United States Congress, extremists tried to pass a national abortion ban to outlaw abortion in every single state. 

But what they need to know is that if Congress passes a national abortion ban, President Joe Biden will veto it.  (Applause.)

Because here’s the deal.  We trust women.  (Applause.)  We trust women to know what is in their own best interest.  And women trust us to fight to protect their most fundamental freedoms.  And it’s going to take all of us.  It is going to take all of us. 

Joe Biden and I are fighting in court to protect women’s access to medication and emergency care.  We have worked to make sure medical records stay between a doctor and her — and his or her patient.  We have protected the right of women to travel between states for abortion care.  And we are fighting for access to free contraception. 

But here’s the bottom line.  As President Biden made clear last night in the State of the Union, to truly protect reproductive freedoms, we must restore the protections of Roe.  What the United States Supreme Court took, Congress can put back in place. 

So, we must have a majority of members in Congress who simply agree — regardless of their personal beliefs for themselves or their family, who just simply agree that the government should not be making these personal decisions for other people.  (Applause.)  That’s the bottom line. 

And when Congress passes a law that restores reproductive freedoms and the reproductive freedoms of Roe, Joe Biden will sign it into law.  (Applause.)

So, in conclusion, I will repeat: It is going to take all of us.  It is going to take all of us to get there.  And momentum is on our side.  (Applause.)

Since Roe was overturned, every time repro- — reproductive freedom has been on the ballot — every time — `22, `23 — every time reproductive freedom has been on the ballot, the people of America have voted for freedom.  (Applause.) 

From Kansas to California to Kentucky, in Michigan, Montana, Vermont, and Ohio — (applause) — the people of America voted for freedom by overwhelming margins. 

And, by the way, that also makes a different point, which is this is not a partisan issue.  It is not a partisan issue.  In red states and blue, tens of millions of Americans marched to the polls, and the voice, then, of the people has been heard, and it will be heard. 

So, in conclusion, I ask today: Arizona, are you ready to make your voices heard?  (Applause.) 

Do we trust women?  (Applause.) 

Do we believe in reproductive freedom?  (Applause.) 

Do we believe in the promise of America?  (Applause.) 

Are we ready to fight for it?  (Applause.) 

And when we fight, we win.  (Applause.) 

     God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.

     Thank you, all.  Thank you.  

                               END                 4:54 P.M. MST

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