Jul 3, 2022

President Biden Meets with Governors on Reproductive Rights 7/01/22 Transcript

President Biden Meets with Governors on Reproductive Rights 7/01/22 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsJoe Biden TranscriptsPresident Biden Meets with Governors on Reproductive Rights 7/01/22 Transcript

Joe Biden: (00:01)
Hey, everyone. Thanks for doing this. Thanks. Leave it to you? I open it up, okay.

Jennifer Klein: (00:11)
You open it up.

Joe Biden: (00:13)
I know you’re all busy as I am. Thank you for making the time, but I need not tell any of you we’re in a really an important area here and we have to act. I’m joined by a group of Democratic governors. We work closely to protect women’s rights after this tragic reversal of Roe v. Wade, a terrible extreme decision in my view, upending lives and impacting on the health and safety of millions of women. And I share the public outrage at this extremist court that’s committed to moving America backwards with fewer rights, less autonomy, and politicians invading the most personal decisions that not only women, but we’ll find if they expand on this decision men as well.

Joe Biden: (01:01)
But as I’ve said last week, this is not over. Last week I announced two specific actions. First, if extremist governors try to block a woman from traveling from her state that prohibits her from seeking medical help she needs to a state that provides that care, the federal government will act to protect her bedrock rights through the Attorney General’s Office. Second, if states try to block a woman from getting medication the FDA has already approved and has been available for more than 20 years, my administration will act to protect that woman’s right to that medication.

Joe Biden: (01:38)
And there are many other unlawful actions in my view that states are preparing to take that we’ll have to address as well. But ultimately, Congress is going to have to act to codify Roe into federal law. As I said yesterday, the filibuster should not stand in the way of us being able to do that, but right now we don’t have the votes in the Senate to change the filibuster at the moment. That means we need two more votes now, not now, when we vote, probably after November, more Senators and the House majority elected November to get this bill to my desk.

Joe Biden: (02:17)
So the choice is clear. We either elect federal Senators and Representatives who will codify Roe, or Republicans who will elect the House and Senate who will try to ban abortions nationwide. Nationwide. This is going to go one way or the other after November. So let’s remember, the reasoning of this decision has an impact much beyond Roe and to the right to privacy more generally. Justice Thomas himself said that under the reasoning of this decision, that the court should reconsider marriage equality and contraception.

Joe Biden: (02:55)
And there’s a lot at stake here. In the meantime, I want to hear what the Governors are doing. Talk about my plans and discuss what we can do until Congress acts. This is not over. It’s not over. Now I’m going to turn it over to Jen Klein, the head of the White House Gender Policy Council, and we’ll proceed with the discussions. Jen?

Jennifer Klein: (03:16)
Thank you, Mr. President. And I’d like to add my thanks to each of you for joining, and for your leadership. We’d, as the President just said, really like to hear from you about both what you’ve done and further action that you’re planning to take. So we’re going to start with you, Governor Hochul from New York. Over to you.

Kathy Hochul: (03:36)
Thank you, Jen. And thank you, Mr. President for convening us with the sense of urgency that I feel that you are conveying because this is a frightening time for women all across our nation. Lot of fear and anxiety out there, and I hear it from women all across the state. They come up to me at subway stops in New York City, at farmers markets. Literally young women who never even had to think about this right are coming up and putting their arms around my neck and sobbing. So there is such stress out there.

Kathy Hochul: (04:04)
So in the state of New York, this came the day after the Supreme Court also told us that we did not have the right to protect our citizens from people carrying concealed weapons in places like subways, and Times Square, et cetera. So what I had to do is convene an extraordinary session because they weren’t due back until January. I brought them back, and literally at 2:00 A.M. this morning while we’re still working on the gun legislation I changed my proclamation to say we’ll also include to give further protections for women in the state, what we call the equality agenda.

Kathy Hochul: (04:38)
This will prohibit discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, and pregnancy outcomes, and reproductive healthcare, and autonomy. So we’re one step closer as of this afternoon, I think it’s going to be passed by both Houses to enshrine abortion rights in our State Constitution. So as long as I’m Governor, these rights will not be rolled back, but we also are prepared to serve as a destination for women who’ll be looking to a place like New York and other states of my colleagues on the call as a safe harbor.

Kathy Hochul: (05:08)
So even before the Supreme Court decision, I knew I had to beef up our opportunities for women to come from other states. We allocated $35 million right off the bat to go to providers so they could hire more people, expand their space, and make sure that they can keep their staff safe from violence as well. And we also decided to mandate all insurance companies doing business in the state of New York now have to cover abortion. And I signed six bills related to protecting our providers after the decision came down.

Kathy Hochul: (05:41)
We will stop the extradition of any search for one of our providers or a woman who’s in our state who are wanted under criminal charges, that’s not happening in New York. And we’re also defending our abortion providers from malpractice and other lawsuits. We also launched a public awareness campaign because there’s a lot of misinformation. Women in New York are seeing the national news, they don’t know whether their rights are protected here in New York. So we’re going to continue to be leaders in this fight. Protect our providers, protect them from the vigilante justice which has been unleashed by the states that are going to allow these private rights of action, where they’re going to hunt down women and providers.

Kathy Hochul: (06:21)
This is chaos, it’s frightening, but also we’re doing what we can to make sure that we are protected. But what’s happening now, the rights of millions of women across this country are now falling on the shoulders of just a handful of states. Just a handful of states are now going to have to take care of the healthcare of women from other states. So we believe as you do Mr. President, that what’s available to New Yorkers and the other enlightened states should be available to all Americans. And no one should have to travel.

Kathy Hochul: (06:51)
And that’s why, as you agree with us, Congress has to act. And we sent a letter way back to Congress saying, “Please pass the Women’s Health Protection Act. Let’s get it through the Senate.” So what we’re doing at the state level is key. But I completely agree with you and I commend you, Mr. President, for standing up and talking about the fact that it is the filibuster that’s preventing the majority of Senators, and it is the majority of Senators, who want to speak on behalf of the majority of Americans.

Kathy Hochul: (07:21)
But we understand our options are limited until next January with a new Senate, and we’re all going to be focusing very hard on that outcome because it is a matter of life and death for American women. Because we do not want to go back to the days anywhere in this country of the back alley abortions, which are real. I talked to one of my neighbors down the hall whose husband used to perform these abortions before abortion was legal in New York State in 1970.

Kathy Hochul: (07:48)
And so this is not just hyperbole, it is real. So what we’re asking to help continue at the federal level, we believe that more can be done to fund family planning services more broadly to allow the providers and their clinics to have federal resources for these services and they can focus on private dollars for abortion services. And I’m really grateful that you’re putting an emphasis on what’s going happen for women to be able to continue to receive abortion services by mail. I mean, this is going to be a battle that people would not have foreseen. We want to make sure that there’s no unlawful interference, and we have to do that to ease public concerns.

Kathy Hochul: (08:27)
And also Mr. President, we’d ask that you consider your ability to use federal facilities. What am I talking about? Veterans hospitals, military bases, and other places where the federal government controls the jurisdiction in some of the states that are hostile to women’s rights and make sure that those services can be available to other women. So those are just a few of the ideas that we encourage you to look at, an idea of what we’re doing at the New York State level. But literally before close of business today, we will have the first step toward a process of changing our Constitution, which is the boldest step we can take. And we just started that today.

Kathy Hochul: (09:02)
So thank you for convening us. We are there to stand with you to do something that… Protect a right that my mother’s generation had to fight for, I fought for, my daughter, who’s in her 30’s, had to fight for. And now, Mr. President, I have a brand new granddaughter, and thank you for your note acknowledging that. I didn’t think we’d have to fight this battle for her generation as well, but apparently we do. But we are ready to take on that fight, so thank you.

Joe Biden: (09:27)
Well, I didn’t think we would either. I was worried we would, but I think that a lot of the folks don’t understand what this decision means. It means if you got a 11 year old child who’s a victim of incest and finds herself pregnant, which occurs, that she can’t get choice. Her health can’t be protected. You find if you’re raped, there’s no exception. I mean, there’s so many things that people really haven’t focused on yet beyond the fundamental right of a woman to be able to choose.

Joe Biden: (10:02)
And so I just think that as you pointed out, Kathy, it’s just going to be a big deal that we get people out to vote. Because here’s what’s going to happen, I predict. If we don’t keep the Senate, increase it in the House, we’re going to be in a situation where the Republicans are going to pass a nationwide prohibition consistent with what the Supreme Court ruled. And so there’s a lot at stake here, but I’m sure glad you’re leading New York. For real.

Kathy Hochul: (10:35)
Thank you, Mr. President.

Joe Biden: (10:36)
Thank you.

Jennifer Klein: (10:36)
Thank you, Governor Hochul. I’m now going to turn to Governor Cooper.

Roy Cooper: (10:41)
Thanks, Jen. Thanks Mr. President for convening this call and for your leadership, particularly on the filibuster. And unlike Governor Hochul in New York, our Republican legislature is not going to amend the constitution, but this Democratic Governor is going to hold the line to protect women’s reproductive freedom in our state. It has really been devastating for so many as reproductive care really has been halted in its tracks in many places across the country. That constitutional right that women have relied on for five decades has been ripped away.

Roy Cooper: (11:20)
And for now at least, where you live will determine your rights. So for now it’s up to the states to determine whether women can get reproductive healthcare. And in North Carolina, they still can. And I’m determined to keep it that way. Because of our location in the Southeast, Mr. President, North Carolina’s already seeing an influx of patients coming to our state for safe care. According to Planned Parenthood of the South Atlantic, their clinics in North Carolina have scheduled 192 patients from out of state for the next week alone. That means about 10,000 extra patients from out of state coming to North Carolina in the next year, mostly from states that have bans and tighter restrictions.

Roy Cooper: (12:13)
And those, Mr. President, are just the numbers from Planned Parenthood, that doesn’t include our state’s other trusted providers. So we know those numbers will be a lot higher. Your zip code should not determine your rights. North Carolina has a law that’s gonna prevent obstructing access to these clinics, and we’re working with law enforcement to make sure that law is enforced. Women and doctors should not have these politicians in the exam room with them looking over their shoulders. And I’m going to continue to trust women to make their own medical decisions.

Roy Cooper: (12:51)
Now a large part of that, at least for North Carolina, Mr. President, is keeping enough Democratic state legislators in our state to sustain my vetos as they have a time and again before. And it also means keeping and electing more Democratic Governors across the country this November. And that is my mission as Chair of the Democratic Governors Association this year. Because Mr. President, right now Governors really are the last line of defense, and they’re also the first chance at progress, which you’re going to hear today. Especially with this Supreme Court on such a destructive path.

Roy Cooper: (13:31)
Mr. President the stakes are high, but they have never been clearer. We are not, we are not backing down. We are ready to do what is needed to protect women’s health. And Mr. President, I urge you to do everything you can on the federal level while we work hard in the states. Thanks. Thanks for this opportunity.

Joe Biden: (13:54)
Well look, Roy, you’re doing a heck of a job, and a lot of your colleagues on this call are as well. I got off the phone today with the Attorney General before I… As a matter of fact, that’s one of the reasons I was, excuse me, a few minutes late. And we’re going to do everything within the power of the federal government to make sure that any attempt to obstruct anything from travel to access to medicine does not occur. We also, by the way, I think we’re going to have to see, and this relate to Governor Hochul as well, that funding for family planning, not for abortion but for family planning…

Joe Biden: (14:36)
And there’s a lot we have to do because a lot of women… For example, a lot of the family planning has to do with whether or not a woman gets access, poor women get access to cancer care or things unrelated to choice. And so there’s a lot we have to do. I think we can get it done. I think the American people are with us. And again, I thank you for your leadership. And I’m not being solicitous, but you’re always there. So thanks, pal. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Roy Cooper: (15:07)
Thank you, Mr. President. Grateful for you.

Jennifer Klein: (15:10)
And now we’re going to turn to Governor Lujan Grisham.

Michelle Grisham: (15:14)
Thank you, Jen. And thank you Mr. President, and I’m delighted frankly to join the fight with my incredible Democratic Gubernatorial colleagues. That we are in fact that brick wall against this horrific Supreme Court decision. I also, Mr. President, really appreciate that you’ve continued to lean in, that this privacy right debate extends far beyond choice. And what we do today in the space for protecting reproductive rights absolutely should move in the direction to prepare to protect everyone’s additional privacy rights, including making sure that we don’t roll backwards on same sex marriage and other related issues.

Michelle Grisham: (16:08)
So New Mexico certainly saw this coming as a potential. A year ago, I signed into a law repealing an antiquated unconstitutional law that could criminalize abortion care and abortion providers. That is now repealed, we did that last year. And in doing that, we also increased resources for family planning, contraceptives, reproductive care, abortion, abortion care services through all of our network of providers and through state funds. We’ll continue to do that.

Michelle Grisham: (16:48)
Most recently, we signed an Executive Order following the same kinds of efforts you’re seeing now across the country. Joining Massachusetts as an example, but now New York, this is not a place where the draconian efforts by neighboring states, such as Texas, who have stated that they will in fact criminalize providers. They’re looking for providers that have multiple-state operations and licenses. And this whole notion that you can criminalize the patient, including asking your neighbors and churches to turn your loved ones, family members, and neighbors in.

Michelle Grisham: (17:29)
We will not cooperate as a state in any of those efforts or investigations. We will not extradite. We will provide coverage and protection for all of our providers and any individual seeking abortion care and abortion services in the state of New Mexico. Like my colleagues, we are seeing an increase and we are working diligently to make sure that when we say and we mean that abortion is legal, safe, and accessible that in fact it is.

Michelle Grisham: (18:01)
So as you talk about what we can do given this Supreme Court decision, and given that my colleague like Chairman Governor Roy Cooper, not every state has a Democratically led legislature. We are going to need the feds to think about ways, not just the FDA protection for making sure that telemedicine is available for contraceptives and abortion care, but in fact we are going to need to make sure that through a public health vehicle that we are in fact doing family planning. We should educate people, that should be a national campaign.

Michelle Grisham: (18:39)
We should talk about access points. We should be using school-based health centers. There’s a number of things that we could use your assistance and your leadership. And you’re already leaning in that direction, not just on preventing the criminalization but making sure we’re talking about where resources can in fact go that would protect women in states that have signaled that they have no interest in their wholesale bans in protecting women and other populations and keeping government out of their personal autonomous decision making, too.

Michelle Grisham: (19:13)
I agree wholeheartedly with Governor Hochul that there are more federal opportunities. And she mentioned several. I think that our Indian health service clinics could be another effective vehicle. I will tell you that I’ve been reached out by a number of sovereign nations who I think would be very supportive and interested. Certainly can’t speak to that across the country, but they’re clear that even a new recent Supreme Court decision limiting sovereignty has the same draconian absolute right unfairness that is looking at being applied through the Supreme Court to them.

Michelle Grisham: (19:54)
So I think that may be yet another vehicle that we could expand that would protect women, and particularly minority populations, all across the country. We stand ready to fight hard across the country in making sure that you have what you need in Congress so that we can codify Roe v. Wade. So that your states that stand as that safe haven and brick wall will continue to do that. And support as many women and their families all across America who are going to need us as we fight to win this battle.

Joe Biden: (20:33)
Well, Michelle, you’re already standing up for folks on your neighboring states. It matters, it matters a lot. And one of the things that I’m finding is that we are looking, beginning the process, or in the process of looking at all the alternatives, including the sovereign nation question. But there’s gonna be a lot more that’s going to come through. I mean, I think people are going to be shocked when the first state that tries to arrest a woman for crossing a state line to get health services. And I don’t think people believe that’s going to happen, but it’s going to happen.

Joe Biden: (21:18)
And it’s going to telegraph to the whole country that this is a gigantic deal that goes beyond… I mean, it affects all your basic rights. So anyway, I thank you for all you’re already doing. And we’re going to take a quick little hesitation here. The press is about to leave so we can continue. If you all have a few more minutes, I want to talk to all of you if you can. And while we’re waiting, think about what you think I should be doing if you’re sitting in my seat. That I should be considering that we haven’t already considered, and it’d be useful.

Speaker 7: (22:02)
One second, sir.

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