C.W. Avery Family YMCA
2:23 P.M. CDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. (Applause.) Good afternoon. Good afternoon, everyone. Please have a seat. Good afternoon. Good afternoon.
Well, first, I want to thank Senator Durbin. I had the privilege of serving with him, as he mentioned, on the Senate Judiciary Committee. And I can tell you, Illinois, you are very, very well represented by Senator Dick Durbin. He is an extraordinary leader, a great fighter for all of American and — all of America, and in particular for the people of Illinois.
So, thank you, Dick Durbin, and congratulations to your grandchild, for her honor today as well.
And I want to thank all the leaders for joining us today, and a special thank you, of course, to Lauren Underwood. Where are you? Lauren. (Applause.) I have seen you when the cameras are on and when the cameras are off. She’s always fighting for the people of her district. And all that you have done for our government, for the people of our country, and for Plainfield, I thank you for that. I thank you for your partnership and your leadership.
So, as Senator Durbin mentioned, we traveled here today. In fact, they both joined me, along with the Secretary, on Air Force Two. And we traveled here from D.C. today to talk with you about maternal health, which should be one of our highest priorities as a nation.
And I had planned to speak about our strategy for improving care for pregnant women and mothers across our country. And as you know, on the way here, however, we learned that the United States Supreme Court had rendered its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Here’s what that decision means: For nearly 50 years, we have talked about what Roe v. Wade protects. Today, as of right now, as of this minute, we can only talk about what Roe v. Wade protected. Past tense.
This is a healthcare crisis, because understand: Millions of women in America will go to bed tonight without access to the healthcare and reproductive care that they had this morning; without access to the same healthcare or reproductive healthcare that their mothers and grandmothers had for 50 years.
This is the first time in the history of our nation that a constitutional right has been taken from the people of America. And what is that right? — some might ask. It’s the right to privacy.
Think about it as the right for each person to make intimate decisions about heart and home; decisions about the right to start a family, including contraception, such as IUDs and the morning-after pill; decisions about whether to have a child, including, as Senator Durbin mentioned, through in-vitro fertilization; decisions to marry the person you love — Obergefell v. Hodges, Loving vs. Virginia.
This opinion also says, when your read it, that abortion is not deeply rooted in our nation’s history. They offer that in the opinion as a foundation for the decision they rendered today.
In holding that it is not deeply rooted in our history, today’s decision on that theory, then, calls into question other rights that we thought were settled, such as the right to use birth control, the right to same-sex marriage, the right to interracial marriage.
The great aspiration of our nation has been to expand freedom, but the expansion of freedom clearly is not inevitable. It is not something that just happens — not unless we defend our most fundamental principles; not unless we elect leaders who stand up for those principles.
The strength of our nation has always been that we move forward.
Today, I invite all people to stand together in defense of one of the most fundamental ideals and principles that for generations, for centuries, I believe, we have held dear, which is that fundamental principle about the importance of liberty — to stand for liberty, to stand for freedom, to stand for self-determination, and for the right to privacy.
You have the power to elect leaders who will defend and protect your rights. And as the President said earlier today, with your vote, you can act, and you have the final word.
So this is not over. God bless you. And God bless America. (Applause.)