Transcript of Pelosi’s remarks at the Women’s Reproductive Health Roundtable

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San Francisco – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Congresswoman Jackie Speier and local women’s health leaders at the University of California, San Francisco, Mission Bay campus for a panel discussion on reproductive health of the Day of Action for Women’s Health and the Day of Equality for Women. Here are the speaker’s statements:

President Pelosi. Good morning to all. Happy Women’s Equality Day.

[Applause]

A day when we are here to talk about women’s freedom. The freedom of women to vote, as provided by the amendment to the Constitution, the freedom of women to make their own decisions, their health care decisions, and that will be part of our discussion today.

I appreciate the nice welcome from Chancellor Hawgood. He’s a huge star in our community, and it’s always a treat to see his vision for what’s next here. And we are very happy to see each and every one of you. You’ll hear from several of our special guests here. I’m very honored to represent San Francisco, along with Jackie Speier, the two of us here, representing this great city, this great community. And sometimes we share representation from UCSF.

[Laughter]

Just depending on where we are at the time. But it is: Jackie is co-chair of the Women’s Caucus, a key member of the Pro-Choice Caucus. Well, I’ll introduce her in a moment, but we’re honored that she’s with us today.

We take pride in California’s leadership in reproductive health, as I mentioned. A beacon of hope and shelter in a time of widespread fear. Emboldened by the radical Supreme Court, MAGA’s extreme Republicans are inflicting unimaginable pain on women and their families.

In Florida, saying: A 16-year-old girl was told by a judge that she was too immature to have an abortion, but mature enough to become a mother. In Texas, doctors now face life in prison for providing care to their patients. For doing your job. Very sad. In fact, American women today are not as free as their mothers and grandmothers were. My daughter Christine is here and our, my granddaughter who is thirteen years old, well, she has a banner. Where are you with your banner? Women’s equality flag?

[Applause]

But her daughter, Bella, is thirteen years old and will not have the same rights as her mother and grandmother. In fact, American women will just, let me put it this way, American women will save American democracy. Because they have come home

[Applause]

So in any case, you know what’s going on all over the country. A battle is waged, a crusade of punishment and control. It’s funny, they don’t like birth control but they want to control women’s lives. Once again, we have done it, we had legislation to make contraception accessible to women. We have [eight] Republican votes on that, that meant more than 200 voted no: the right to travel, for women to pursue their reproductive rights.

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And again, we want to put people above politics in all of this. So again, we’ve passed Roe vs. Wade enshrine it in our Constitution, re-establish the federal right to birth control, reaffirm the freedom to travel, and we have more to do. And even other aspects of reproductive freedom in terms of equality in LGBTQ marriage and so on.

We just won’t go back. That’s the way it is. They have to know that we’re not coming back.

Now, I’ve spent a lot of time on this, because it’s the current manifestation of women’s freedom. That’s what the women, the suffragettes, fought so hard for. They fought a lot for it. And folks, when women got the right to vote, this headline said ‘Women Entitled to Vote.’ Well, we know it wasn’t. Women were not given the right to vote. Women fought for it, they fought for it, it took a long time. And now we have to fight for other aspects of that freedom.

So now, it is my privilege, and indeed I have preempted it, to yield to the distinguished Chancellor of UCSF. As I said before, he is a hero in our community, with a great vision for inclusion, diversity, science and innovation, and in so many ways. We are honored that he welcomed us this morning, and now I bow to him giving us another welcome, Chancellor.

***

Thank you very much, Jackie. I want to thank our very special guests for their presentations. Shannon, Dr. Drey. Asmara, thank you for sharing your personal story. To Ushma, thank you, and also to Gilda. It’s Gilda, yes, Gilda is still with us. Thank you Gilda. You gave us great guidance.

But one word that permeated the entire discussion was the word ‘justice’. The fact that this is such an assault on women of color and women, low-income families is just sinful. it’s sinful. It’s wrong that they can tell women what they think women should do with their lives and their bodies. But it is sinful, the injustice of all this. So thank you for making that central. And so did you, Dr. Upadhyay. Thank you so much for making that so important.

Calif., Calif. How fantastic is our state? Thank you Governor Newsom and our state legislature. An initiative is going to be on the ballot, and thank you to our legislators for that. Judy Chu is our leader in all of this. The day after Texas did what she did in September, Judy’s bill was ready to go to the floor to enshrine Roe vs. Wade. So I want to, I just want to acknowledge that. Hearing some of what he said, I think he’ll be encouraged by black maternal mortality initiatives. Alma Adams and others have been relentless, which is why there is a lot going on in Congress. But much more would be accomplished if we just won two more senators in November so we can pass them in the United States Senate.

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[Applause]

One of the things that is always horrible to me is how they can prevent women from having a child in the future by ignoring their health needs at one point. And what does it also mean for your other children that you may already have? So we have, we have in our infrastructure bill the expansion of telehealth, which is useful to reach many more people.

Just so you know, today is a Day of Action across the country because it’s Women’s Equality Day. But we are focusing on women’s freedom. And just to say this: we are concerned about women’s kitchen table issues. How they pay bills, food, school, whatever. And now the Republicans have made freedom, democracy, a kitchen issue for women, because it is a decision that has cost so much in terms of health, in terms of opportunities for other children and also in terms of dollar amounts. So this Day of Action, again, is about women, women who save our democracy. That’s what’s happening. Women saving our Democracy.

And I’ll just say this: Yesterday, I was at something in Los Angeles and a mother told me that, hearing all this, her three-year-old daughter, the mother said something about, one time, she went to bed and said to me: ‘Mom, no one should tell girls what to do with their bodies.’

[Laughter]

Three years old. So it’s coming. It’s coming. Every other generation. Hopefully the kids, the little kids are hearing that too. But this is, we have our, shall we say, areas of disagreement, including our own state that we have to deal with, but not to undermine the leadership that our state is taking. And we are proud of that. I am proud of the House Democrats, for the leadership they have provided, across the board with our pro-choice Majority in Congress. But they are, again, more legislation that is necessary. And your prioritization has been very important to us.

It’s not a coincidence that we’re doing this, as Congresswoman Speier said, on Women’s Equality Day. Women’s Equality Day, women fighting and winning the right to vote. Vote for what? Vote for yourselves, vote for freedom, vote for our Democracy, and now we have this fight left. Let’s be clear: this is what we see every day. Republicans want to ban abortions in the country. And if they took the lead in Congress, they would make it a national abortion ban.

Judge Clarence Thomas, Clarence Thomas, also made it very clear, this is not all there is. It’s about equality in marriage. It’s about a woman’s right to choose, contraception, it’s about other aspects of personal freedom. So it’s really important that we know that women are running and electing pro-choice legislators, whether they’re Democrats or Republicans. But the fact is, right now, they’re Democrats. We would love for this to be bipartisan. So far, we don’t see that.

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So on this Day of Action, let’s understand the assault that this represents on women, women of color, low-income women. And it is an injustice, an injustice that we will not tolerate and cannot bear. And sharing personal stories is the most eloquent, the most eloquent thing to convince. When we save Affordable Care, from – 10,000 events to tell the stories, tell the stories, that is – a heart to heart makes a difference.

So, about this equality, I will end by telling this story about the equality of women. When I first became leader of Congress and went to my first meeting in the White House as leader of the House Democrats, President Bush was president: very nice, very hospitable, charming. Lovely person. We disagree on politics, but friendly nonetheless.

So, I go into the room. I didn’t care, I didn’t care for most of the meeting, because I’ve been to the White House many times, as Jackie has, as an intelligence person, as someone on the Armed Services Committee, and the rest. I was an appropriator, and the Intelligence. I just thought it was like any other meeting, I would go to the White House.

But when I got there, it was a very small table: the president and four leaders: House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans. And I realized that it was unlike any other meeting that has ever been held in the White House, because it was the first time that a woman was at the table, not in the appointment of the president but as a representative of our party in the room. . And the president understood. He said this will be a different meeting: “We’re going to hear some different things from Nancy, from her perspective.” but people of color, LGBTQ. I was different from the other people there because of who I represented.

Anyway, I sit down, and he’s welcoming me and all that. And suddenly, I felt very locked in my seat. Jackie has heard me tell the story many times. Locked in my seat. It was – I never felt this before. I was locked in my seat. And suddenly, I realized that it was Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, whoever you want, Sojourner Truth, Alice. Everyone, everyone was in the seat with me. And I could hear them say, ‘Finally, we have a seat at the table.’

And then they left. My first thought is, we want more. We want more. Because the more diversity, the more inclusion we have in any of the decision making, the better our politics will be and the better we can fight these attacks. Hostility: This is not just a difference from: This is hostility towards women. And on this Women’s Equality Day, we will fight. Hostility.

With that, I want to thank you, doctor. Once again, to the Chancellor, for welcoming us here today, and giving you the last word.