San Francisco – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Congresswoman Jackie Speier and local women’s health leaders at the University of California, San Francisco Bay Mission Campus for a Women’s Health Day of Action and Gender Equality Day panel discussion Women for reproductive health. Below are the comments of the Speaker:
Speaker Pelosi. Good morning everyone. Happy Women’s Equality Day.
A day where we are here for women’s freedom. Women’s freedom to vote, as provided for in the amendment to the Constitution, women’s freedom to make their own decisions, their health decisions, and this will be part of our discussion today.
I appreciate the gracious welcome from Chancellor Hawgood. He is such a star in our community and it is always a joy to see his vision for what comes next here. And we are very happy to see each of you. You’ll hear from a number of our special guests here. I’m very honored to represent San Francisco, along with Jackie Speier, both of us here, representing this great city, this great community. And sometimes we share UCSF representation.
Depending on where we are at that moment. But it is – Jackie is the Co-Chair of the Women’s Group, a key Member of the Pro-Choice Group. Well, I’ll introduce her in a moment, but we’re honored to have her with us today.
We pride ourselves on California’s leadership in reproductive health, as I mentioned. A beacon of hope and refuge in a time of widespread fear. Emboldened by the radical Supreme Court, extreme MAGA Republicans are causing unimaginable pain to women and their families.
In Florida, a judge told a 16-year-old girl that she was too immature for an abortion but mature enough to be a mother. In Texas, doctors now face life in prison for providing care to their patients. To do their jobs. So sad. Indeed, today, American women are not as free as their mothers and grandmothers were. My daughter Christine is here and our – my granddaughter who is thirteen – well she has a flag. Where are you with your placard? The flag of women’s equality?
But her daughter, Bella, is thirteen years old and won’t have the same rights as mom and grandma. Indeed, American women will just – let me put it this way – the women of America will save America’s Democracy. Because they’ve hit home –
So, in any case, you know what is happening all over the country. A battle is being waged, a crusade of punishment and control. It’s funny, they don’t like birth control, but they want to control women’s lives. Again, we’ve — we’ve had legislation to make contraception accessible to women. We have [eight] Republican votes on this, which meant that over 200 voted against – the right to travel, for women to demand their reproductive rights.
And again, we want to put people above politics in all of this. So again, we’ve passed Roe v. Wade to enshrine in our Constitution, establish, again, 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 LGBTQ marriage equality and others.
We just won’t be back. That’s how it is. They must know that we are not coming back.
Now, I have spent a lot of time on this because it is the actual manifestation of freedom for women. What women, the suffragettes, fought so hard for. They fought hard for it. And people – when women got the right to vote, this headline said “Women are given the right to vote.” Well, we know it wasn’t. Women were not given the right to vote. Women fought for it, fought for it, it took a long time. And now we must fight for other aspects of this freedom.
So now, it’s my privilege, and I’ve actually been ahead of him, to hand over to the distinguished Chancellor of UCSF. As I said earlier, he is a hero in our community, with a great vision for inclusion and diversity, science and innovation, and in many ways. We are honored that you received us this morning, and now I give you my hand to welcome us further, 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 attack on women of color and women from lower income families is simply a sin. It’s sin. It is wrong that they will be able to tell women what they think women should do with their lives and bodies. But it is a sin, the injustice of it all. So thanks for making it central. And so did you, Dr. Upadhyay. Thank you so much for making it so important.
California, California. How fantastic is our country? Thank you, Governor Newsom and our state legislature. An initiative will be on the ballot, and thanks to our legislators for that. Judy Chu is our leader for all of this. The day after Texas did what it did in September, Judy’s bill was about to go to the Floor for storage Roe v. Wade. So I want to – I just want to admit that. Listening to some of what you said, I think you will be encouraged by the initiatives on black maternal mortality. Alma Adams and others have been just relentless—so there’s a lot going on in Congress. But a lot more would be done if we simply won two more senators in November so we could get them into the United States Senate.
One of the things that is always appalling to me is how they can prevent women from having a child in the future by ignoring her health needs at any given time. And what does it also mean for her other children she may already have? So we have — we have in our infrastructure bill the expansion of telehealth, which is helpful in reaching a lot more people.
FYI, today is the 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 do they pay the bills, food, school, whatever. And now the Republicans have made freedom, democracy a kitchen table issue for women, because it’s a decision that has cost both in terms of health, in terms of opportunities for other children, and in terms of dollar amounts. So this Day of Action, again, is about women, women saving our democracy. This is what is happening. Women who save 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 going on—her three-year-old daughter—the mother said something about her, one time, she was going to bed and she said, ‘Mom, nobody should tell girls what to do with their bodies.’
Three years old. So it’s passing. It’s passing. A completely different generation. Hopefully boys, little boys will hear this too. But this is – we have, shall we say, our areas of contention, even our own state that we have to deal with, but not to the detriment of the leadership that our state is taking. And we are proud of it. I’m proud of House Democrats, for the leadership they’ve provided, across the board with our pro-choice majority in Congress. But they are – again, some more legislation that is needed. And your prioritization has been very important to us.
It’s no 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 themselves, vote for freedom, vote for our democracy and now we have this war. 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.
Justice Clarence Thomas, Clarence Thomas, made it abundantly clear as well, that’s not all there is. It’s about marriage equality. It is about a woman’s right to choose, contraception, it has to do with other aspects of personal freedom. So it’s really important that we know that women get out and elect pro-choice legislators, whether they’re Democrats or Republicans. But the fact is, at the moment, they are Democrats. We would like this to be bipartisan. So far, we don’t see that.
So on this Day of Action, let’s recognize the attack that this is on women, women of color, women of – lower income women. And it is an injustice, an injustice that we will not and cannot tolerate. And sharing personal stories is the most eloquent, most eloquent persuader. When we preserved affordable care, of – 10,000 events to tell the stories, to tell the stories, that’s – a heart to a heart makes a difference.
So on this equality – I’ll just close by telling this story about women’s equality. When I first became Leader in Congress and went to my first White House meeting as House Democratic Leader, President Bush was President – very gracious, very welcoming, nice. Beloved person. We don’t agree on politics, but still, graciously.
So I go to 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 rest. I was an acquirer, and Intelligence. I just thought it was like any other meeting, I was going to the White House.
But when I got there, it was a very small table: the President and four leaders – the House and the Senate, the Democrats and the Republicans. And I realized that it was unlike any other meeting that had ever been held in the White House, because it was the first time that a woman was at the table – not in the nomination of the President, but as a representative of our party in the chamber. . And the President understood this. He said this will be a different meeting — “We’re going to hear some different things from Nancy, from her perspective.” And, again, representing not only a very large number, a large number of women in our group, 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 all of a sudden, I felt very confined in my seat. Jackie has heard me tell the story many times. Locked in my seat. It was – I’ve never felt that before. I was locked in my place. And all of a sudden, I realized it was Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, you name it, 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 were gone. My first thought is, we want more. We want more. Because the more diversity, the more inclusion we have in every decision-making, the better our politics will be and the better we can fight these attacks. Hostility – this is not just a change – this is hostility towards women. And on this Women’s Equality Day, we will fight back. Enmity.
With that, I want to thank you, doctor. Again, Mr. Chancellor, who welcomed us here today and I give you the last word.