Vice President’s Ceremonial Office
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
3:04 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, good afternoon. Good afternoon. I am very honored to greet and welcome these extraordinary leaders for an important discussion. There is a lot to talk about, but I can say that, among these leaders, we not only have folks who lead at a local and statewide level, but truly are national leaders on many issues, including the work that needs to be done to address the needs of women in America after the Dobbs decision came down by the United States Supreme Court.
So, as we all know, we are in a moment where, weeks ago, the United States Supreme Court, the highest court of our land, took a constitutional right that had been recognized from the people of America, from the women of America.
And what we are seeing is, in many states around our country, extremist so-called leaders who are passing laws that will crim- — criminalize health providers, punish women that, in many cases, will or have allowed no exception for abortion care for women and even girls who have been the subject of a violent act of rape or incest. And I say that as a former prosecutor who specialized in child sexual assault cases and violence against women, understanding what that means when someone has endured such an extreme act of violence and then to have taken from her her right to self-determination to make decisions about her body and what is in her best interest.
So much about this issue also represents the fact that, as we know, in Kansas, the people of Kansas, the women of Kansas made clear that you support and trust women to make decisions about their own body and what is in their best interest without the need for the government to tell them what to do. And so that is an important principle that is also at stake here, which is: We must trust the women of America and believe that they know what is in their own best interest and do not require nor do they need the government to tell them what is in their best interest.
And I want to thank, in particular, these leaders at this table today who have been doing extraordinary work on the frontlines of this issue and this movement.
Latina leaders across America are on the front lines leading on this issue. And so this is an important discussion that we will have that will be about learning about the work that is happening on the ground, but also in furtherance of our objective to ensure that no woman will feel alone or unheard in our country on this issue and so many others.
I think it’s also important to recognize on this issue that no one on this issue should believe that in any way that they would have to abandon their faith or their beliefs to agree to the fundamental principle here, which is: The government should not be making this decision for women. Each person should have a right to believe what they believe. But no one should have or be in a situation where the government is telling them what their beliefs should be, or restricting their choices based on their belief.
We believe that the women of America have a right to make that decision. They are smart enough to make it. They have agency to make it, if they choose, in consultation with their priests, their pastor, their rabbi, their physician, their loved ones. But the government should not be making these decisions for women.
And in particular, when we talk about the impact on Latinas, we are we are faced with a number of particular issues that are present for other women as well, but particular issues that include where there may be a language barrier. That was an issue in terms of access to healthcare before the Dobbs decision and has become a bigger issue now.
We look at the fact that Latinos are less likely to have private insurance and what that means in terms of what options are available or not available, simply because they actually don’t have access because of their financial situation or condition.
We look at the fact — the fact that there has been, we believe, targeted misinformation and disinformation and what we need to do to address this and highlight the accurate information, so that people are equipped to have the power to make decisions based on facts and not based on misrepresentation.
So, with all of that, again, I welcome all of you. I thank you for your leadership. The President and I take this issue very seriously. As you know, the President just signed the second executive order and our administration has approached this with a whole-of-government perspective.
Just yesterday, we convened members of the Cabinet to look at what we are doing across agencies from Health and Human Services to the United States Department of Justice. And that kind of collaboration includes the collaboration with you, our leaders on the ground.
So, with that again, I thank you all and I look forward to our discussion.
And I will now turn it over to Julie Rodriguez.