I am deeply conscious of the reality that this victory belongs to generations of brave women and men who fought for the radical idea that women should determine our own lives and futures.
And it belongs to the women and men who continue to fight for that idea today, even in the face of threats and violence.
When a man who never should have had a gun killed three people at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, leaders in this room voted unanimously to keep health centers across America open the next day.
The CEO, the CEO of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains made a promise to patients in Colorado and beyond when she said: ‘Our doors – and our hearts – stay open.’
That is really what Planned Parenthood is all about.
So today, I want to say something you don’t hear often enough: thank you.
Thank you for being there for women, no matter their race, sexual orientation, or immigration status.
Thank you for being there for Natarsha McQueen in Brooklyn, who told me how Planned Parenthood caught her breast cancer when she was just 33 years old, and saved her life.
Thank you for being there for college students getting STD testing. The young people who have the tough questions that they’re afraid to ask their parents. The sexual assault survivors who turn to Planned Parenthood for compassionate care. The transgender teens who come for an appointment and find the first place where they can truly be themselves.
Thank you for being there for your communities – whether that means taking on hostile politicians in Louisiana or handing out clean drinking water in Flint, Michigan.
And thank you for being there for every woman in every state who has to miss work; drive hundreds of miles sometimes; endure cruel, medically unnecessary waiting periods; walk past angry protesters to exercise her constitutional right to safe and legal abortion.
I’ve been proud to stand with Planned Parenthood for a long time. And as president, I will always have your back.
Because I know for a century, Planned Parenthood has worked to make sure that the women, men, young people who count on you can lead their best lives – healthy, safe and free to follow their dreams.
Just think when Planned Parenthood was founded, women couldn’t vote or serve on juries in most states. It was illegal even to provide information about birth control, let alone prescribe it.
But people marched and organized. They protested unjust laws and, in some cases, even went to prison. And slowly but surely, America changed for the better.
51 years ago this week, thanks to a Planned Parenthood employee named Estelle Griswold, the Supreme Court legalized birth control for married couples across America. When I used to teach law, and I would point to this case, a look of total bewilderment would come across my students’ faces. And not long after that, Roe v. Wade guaranteed the right to safe, legal abortion.
So young women were no longer dying in emergency rooms and back alleys from botched, illegal abortions. And this is a fact that is not often heard, but I hope you will repeat it: America’s maternal mortality rate dropped dramatically.
And it turns out, being able to plan their families not only saved women’s lives, it also transformed them – because it meant that women were able to get educations, build careers, enter new fields, and rise as far as their talent and hard work would take them – all the opportunities that follow when women are able to stay healthy and choose whether and when to become mothers.
And you know so well, today, the percentage of women who finish college is six times what it was before birth control was legal. Women represent half of all college graduates in America and nearly half our labor force.
And our whole economy, then, is better off. The movement of women into the workforce, the paid workforce, over the past 40 years was responsible for more than three and a half trillion dollars in growth in our economy.
And here’s another fact that doesn’t get much attention: unintended pregnancy, teen pregnancy, and abortion rates are at all time record lows. That reality and studies confirm what Planned Parenthood knew all along: Accurate sex education and effective, affordable contraception work.
And, it wasn’t so long ago, Republicans and Democrats could actually stand together on these issues. Back in the ‘90s, when I helped create the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, I worked with Republicans to get it done.
Now things feel quite a bit different now, don’t they?
Instead of working to continue the progress we’ve made, Republicans, led now by Donald Trump, are working to reverse it.
When Donald Trump says, ‘Let’s make America great again,’ that is code for ‘let’s take America backward.’ Back to a time when opportunity and dignity were reserved for some, not all. Back to the days when abortion was illegal, women had far fewer options, and life for too many women and girls was limited.
Well, Donald, those days are over.
We are not going to let Donald Trump or anyone else turn back the clock.
And that means we’ve got to get to work. Because as you know better than anyone, right now, across the country, rights that women should be able to take for granted are under attack.
Any day now, the Supreme Court will rule on the Texas law that imposes burdensome and medically unnecessary requirements on abortion providers. If these restrictions are allowed to stand, 5.4 million women of reproductive age will be left with about 10 health centers that provide abortion – in a state the size of France. It is the biggest challenge to Roe v. Wade in a generation.
It’s also yet another reminder of what’s at stake on the Supreme Court. President Obama has done his job, and nominated Merrick Garland to be the ninth justice. It’s time for Senate Republicans to do their job. The Senate should give Judge Garland the hearing he deserves.
Now, meanwhile, in just the first three months of 2016, states across the country introduced more than 400 restrictions on abortion. 11 states have defunded Planned Parenthood in the last year, cutting some women off from their only health care provider. And of course, on a national level, Republicans in Congress have been willing to shut down the entire federal government over Planned Parenthood funding.
Have you ever noticed that the same politicians who are against sex education, birth control, and safe and legal abortion, are also against policies that would make it easier to raise a child – like paid family leave?
They are for limited government everywhere except when it comes to interfering with women’s choices and rights.
Well I’m here today to tell you we need to be just as determined as they are.
We need to defend Planned Parenthood against partisan attacks. If right-wing politicians actually cared as much about protecting women’s health as they say they do, they’d join me in calling for more federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
We also need to fight back against the erosion of reproductive rights at the federal, state, and local levels, and ensure that patients and staff can safely walk into health centers without harassment or violence.
We need to, we need to stand up for access to affordable contraception, without interference from politicians or employers. And let’s invest in long-acting reversible contraceptives, so every woman can choose the method that is best for her. Let’s strengthen and improve the Affordable Care Act, which covers 20 million Americans and saves women millions of dollars through no-copay preventive care.
Let’s take action to stop the spread of the Zika virus, which threatens the health of children and pregnant women.
Let’s repeal laws like the Hyde Amendment that make it nearly impossible, make it nearly impossible for low-income women, disproportionately women of color, to exercise their full reproductive rights.
And, it is worth saying again: defending women’s health means defending access to abortion – not just in theory, but in reality. We know that restricting access doesn’t make women less likely to end a pregnancy. It just makes abortion less safe. And that then threatens women’s lives.
For too long, issues like these have been dismissed by many as ‘women’s issues’ – as though that somehow makes them less worthy, secondary.
Well, yes, these are women’s issues. They’re also family issues. They’re economic issues. They’re justice issues. They’re fundamental to our country and our future.
Beyond these specific issues, we need to keep working to support women and families in other ways – by getting incomes rising, including the minimum wage, which disproportionately affects women; we need to finally guarantee equal pay for women’s work; we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship that keeps families together; and we need to break down all the barriers of discrimination and systemic racism that hold too many Americans back.
We need to come together to stop the epidemic of gun violence that is stalking our country. No parent should live in fear that their child will be hurt or killed by gun violence. 33,000 Americans are killed every year. I’ve met so many mothers on this campaign who have lost their own children. We owe it to them to protect our kids no matter what ZIP code they live in. And that is going to require standing up to the gun lobby and making this a voting issue.
All the issues we’re talking about today are connected. They intersect. And that’s why I’m grateful to the reproductive justice leaders in this room and across America. Because you know that all those issues go straight to that fundamental question: whether we believe women and families of all races and backgrounds and income levels deserve an equal shot in life.
Now that’s what I believe and you won’t be surprised to hear – Donald Trump believes something very different.
He actually thinks guaranteeing paid family leave would leave America less competitive. He says if women want equal pay, we should just – and this is a quote – ‘do as good a job’ as men – as if we weren’t already.
He wants to appoint justices who want to overturn Roe V. Wade. He of course wants to defund Planned Parenthood. And he wants to go after so many of the fundamental rights we have, including safe and legal abortions. And he actually said, ‘women should be punished for having abortions.’ Now, once he said that there was an outcry, as there should have been, and he tried to walk back his comments. He’s doing that a lot lately.
But anyone who would so casually agree to the idea of punishing women – like it was nothing to him, the most obvious thing in the world – that is someone who doesn’t hold women in high regard. Because if he did, he’d trust women to make the right decisions for ourselves.
But don’t worry. Donald assures us that, as President, he’ll be – and I quote again – ‘the best for women.’
Anyone who wants to defund Planned Parenthood, and wipe out safe, legal abortion has no idea what’s best for women.
And after all this is a man who has called women ‘pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ and ‘disgusting animals.’ Kind of hard to imagine counting on him to respect our fundamental rights?
When he says pregnant women are an ‘inconvenience’ to their employer, what does that say about how he values women – our work, our contributions?
We’re in the middle of a concerted, persistent assault on women’s health across our country. And we have to ask ourselves and ask everyone we come in contact with: Do we want to put our health, our lives, our futures in Donald Trump’s hands?
Now, these questions aren’t hypothetical. Every woman – and everyone who cares about women – will answer them when they vote in November.
When I talk like this, Donald Trump likes to say I’m playing the ‘woman card.’ And I like to say, if fighting for equal pay, Planned Parenthood, and the ability to make our own health decisions is playing the woman card, then deal me in.
Now my friends, I come to this issue, of course as a woman, a mother, and a grandmother now. But I also come to it as a former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State. And in those roles, in those roles, I traveled to parts of the world where girls are married off as soon as they are old enough to bear children. Places where the denial of family planning consigns women to lives of hardship.
I visited countries where governments have strictly regulated women’s reproduction – either forcing women to have abortions or forcing women to get pregnant and give birth.
Everything I have seen has convinced me that life is freer, fairer, healthier, safer, and far more humane when women are empowered to make their own reproductive health decisions.
And everything I’ve heard from Donald Trump, often seems to echo other leaders who have a very different view of women.
The late, great Maya Angelou said: ‘When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.’
Donald Trump has shown us who he is. And we sure should believe him.
It’s not just on reproductive rights. Donald Trump would take us in the wrong direction on so many issues we care about – economic justice, workers’ rights, civil rights, human rights, the environment—all of that is on the line in this election.
When Donald Trump says a distinguished judge born in Indiana can’t do his job because of his Mexican heritage, or mocks a reporter with disabilities, or denigrates Muslims and immigrants, it goes against everything we stand for. He does not see all Americans as Americans.
So this election isn’t about the same old fights between Democrats and Republicans. They’ll be there, don’t worry. But this election is profoundly different. It’s about who we are as a nation. It’s about millions of Americans coming together to say: We are better than this.
So here’s my promise to you today: I will be your partner in this election and over the long haul.
Together, we are taking on the attacks and together we’ll come out stronger – just like Planned Parenthood has, time and again.
And together we’re going to unify our country, stop Donald Trump, and fight for an America where we lift each other up, instead of tearing each other down.
We’re not just going to break that highest and hardest glass ceiling. We’re going to break down all the barriers that hold women and families back.
We’re stronger when every family in every community knows they’re not on their own. We are stronger together and we are going to make history again in November.
Thank you all so, so much.