Remarks by Vice President Harris in a Moderated Conversation on Reproductive Rights
University of Nevada
(April 18, 2023)
MAYOR SCHIEVE: So, you get the honors. Please welcome —
MS. DAWSON: — our 49th Vice President, Madam Vice President Kamala Harris. (Applause.)
(The Vice President enters the stage.)
MS. DAWSON: Wonderful. I hope someone sends me that photo — (laughter) — later.
Thank you so much.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: What’s your Twitter handle? What’s your Twitter handle?
MS. DAWSON: It’s my name.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: Someone is going to send it to you —
MS. DAWSON: It’s my name.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: — I promise.
MS. DAWSON: So welcome everyone to this very important and, honestly, prescient conversation, because we need to be galvanized to make a difference on this issue.
Thank you, Madam Vice President. I love saying that.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It is great to be here.
MS. DAWSON: Thank you for being here with us.
And can you please tell all of us why you insisted on coming here to Nevada to talk with us about reproductive justice and rights?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Well, first, good afternoon, everyone. It is good to see you all. I was just hanging out with the folks who are in the overflow room, and I will tell you what I shared with them: I’m counting on you guys.
Governor Sandoval, where are you? And thank you for hosting us and the warm welcome and for all that you are doing here. We’re counting on these students to lead in every way, starting now. And obviously, you already made that decision. That’s why you’re here. And so thank you all.
So, Mayor, Rosario, the issues of this moment are profound.
You know, I’ll just put the issue that we’ve convened to discuss this afternoon — the issue of choice — in a larger context. There is so much that for years we took as being settled. We thought there were just certain things that were settled. The Voting Rights Act. Okay, voting rights are settled. Not so much.
We thought that this issue of choice — a woman’s decision, a person’s decision to make about the future of their life, as it relates to their body — settled. Roe v. Wade. Not any longer.
If you look on a global scale, we thought that it was long settled — the understanding of the importance of sovereignty and territorial integrity. But you see, with Russia’s unprovoked aggression in Ukraine, we can no longer take that for granted.
We are, in many ways, living in unsettled times. Now, this is not the first time in history this has happened, but it is very important for us to be very clear-eyed about the moment in which we all exist and then what becomes our duty — what becomes our duty to defend foundational, fundamental ideals and principles, including the foundational ideal and principle of freedom and liberty.
You know, when we think about democracy — and I shared this with the group in the other room — there’s a duality to democracies in terms of the nature, I think.
On the one hand, incredible strength. When a democracy is intact, the strength that it gives to its people to defend their individuality, their liberties, their rights — incredibly strong what that does for a people and a society.
Democracies are also incredibly fragile. They will only be as strong as our willingness to fight for it.
And so, centering us on this moment, this is where we are on so many issues. And, in particular, on the issue of choice and reproductive freedom, we have witnessed the highest court in our land, the United States Supreme Court, the court of Thurgood, take a constitutional right, that had been recognized, from the people of America, from the women of America.
And following that — we predicted it might happen and it has — laws are being proposed around our country by extremist so-called leaders that would criminalize healthcare providers — literally providing for jail time for healthcare providers. Laws that would punish women. Laws that don’t even make an exception for the violence and violation of rape and incest.
And, you know, I — my career — a lot of my career I spent as a courtroom prosecutor specializing in crimes against women and children. And the idea that laws would be passed providing no exception for rape and incest by people who consider themselves and want to be called leaders — don’t they understand that this individual that would be the subject of that restriction has just survived an incredible violation of their body?
And then you would put in place a law that, after that happens, would further deprive them of the liberty and the right to make decisions about their own body. This is what’s happening in our country.
Laws are being passed — there — in Florida, well, they’re saying, “Well, we’ll make an exception as long as you tell somebody like the police, and there’s a court order.” Well, having prosecuted these cases, I’m going to tell you the vast majority of survivors don’t report for a variety of reasons that have to do what they believe is in their best interest and the best interest of their safety.
And now you’re going to require that, after that, they have to go and walk into a police station and tell somebody — if they don’t want to — in order to make a decision about what happens with their body?
And these people call themselves leaders?
You know, one of the important characteristics of anyone who considers themselves a leader, I believe, is to have some level of empathy and understanding about the impact not only of their words, but of their actions.
So this is where we are.
And I look at the students here, and I — and I have asked you to continue in your role of leadership. I have — I have let you know we need you, because we really do.
You know, I am a daughter of parents who met when they were students marching and shouting for justice in the Civil Rights Movement. Some of the best movements in our country that have been about the expansion of rights have been led by students. This movement requires your leadership. It requires your leadership.
And there’s a lot to get done, because — and I thank and I met with the legislators who are here and your legislative leaders and that majority-female legislator — legislature that you’ve got here. Some bad people. (Laughter and applause.) They really are. They’re so good.
And so, you know, you’re good, good here in Nevada, right? (Laughter.)
You know, I just left California, my home. You know, we’re good there.
But, folks, around our country, people are suffering in so many states around our country. And so even though it’s not in our backyard here in Nevada or in California, please lead in this movement and build up the energy and the momentum to stand for our democracy and our foundational principles and the right of people to make decisions about their own lives and not their government.
MS. DAWSON: Very true. Give her a round of applause. (Applause.)
And you’re in Nevada, so we’ll let you swear, especially on this issue. It’s a big deal. Right?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It’s a —
MS. DAWSON: It’s a big deal.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah, it’s a very big deal. (Laughs.)
MS. DAWSON: So, yesterday — it was interesting — I asked a lot of people what would be the one question that, if they could ask you, what would it be. It was really interesting to hear, because the majority of everyone that I asked wanted to talk about the abortion pill —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
MS. DAWSON: — and what that looks like and what’s next. Is it birth control? Is it life-saving diabetic medication?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah. Yeah.
MS. DAWSON: What does this look like?
So a lot of people wanted to ask you that question. What do you say to them?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: So mifepristone is the drug that we are talking about — a medication that we also refer to as the abortion pill.
Okay, so what’s the issue here? The issue is, if — I might be oversimplifying it but it really does, I think, hit the mark. The FDA — a federal agency charged with doing the scientific work, the peer-based review, the medical work of analyzing medications to determine if they are safe and effective for the use as prescribed by a doctor — that is the entity that is charged with doing that work, and has been doing that work for 85 years, of analyzing and doing the research, because when they see — when they say “FDA approved,” we know and can have confidence this is safe and effective.
And, by the way, it’s also prescribed by a doctor, who, by the way, is a medical professional — (laughs) — unlike the politicians who have put forward lawyers to go to a court of law — not a doctor’s office, not a medical school — to challenge the efficacy of this medication motivated by a political agenda.
And they’ve gone, and they forum shopped. You know, when you guys — some of you might go to law school. You will talk a lot about forum shopping. Basically, you know, you’re trying to pick where you’re going to be — where you can go, because you think you’ll get a better outcome.
So they forum shopped, and they went to this court in Texas believing that that judge would do exactly what that judge did, which is to attempt to invalidate this medication.
Understand what this means. And, you know, I’ve been interviewed about it, and reporters will say, “Well, you know, what’s the impact of this?” And I say, “You know, what? Just look in your medicine cabinet.” Everybody here, I’d ask you to have a visual image of what is in your medicine cabinet. And for you, for the people you love, it might be asthma medication, it might be medication to address heart disease, diabetes, cancer. All of that has been approved by the FDA.
So think about the precedent that is now being set to say, based on a political agenda, that you could take that out of — basically out of somebody’s medicine cabinet. Politicians and lawyers.
The precedent here is profound because it is an attack on one of the most important institutions in our public health system. So there’s a political attack on our public health system and the integrity of that system.
And the impact is not only potentially about anything that might be in your medicine cabinet. And, you know, I’m not going to get in your business, but you should just think about what might be in your medicine cabinet. Right? (Laughs.) There could be all kinds of things that you need and a doctor prescribed, and that’s your business with your doctor. Right?
MS. DAWSON: Right.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And so there is that piece of it, which is the invasion, right?
But also, I’ve talked to many healthcare professionals who are concerned about what the impact will also be on the patient-doctor trust — not only the privilege, but the trust.
Physicians are now, nurses are now, healthcare professionals are now concerned that these attacks on public health matters are compromising the ability of people to believe — to trust their — their physicians and their healthcare providers out of concern that there might be some exposure to liability.
And for what? This — this medication has — was approved 20 years ago, by the way — mifepristone — 20 years ago; has been working as prescribed, has been safe and effective for its prescribed use.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: And it helps women that are going through, like, miscarriages and things like that.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Ab- — yes.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: I don’t think people also realize —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes. Yes.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: — how critical —
MS. DAWSON: And it’s like one in five, I think, pregnancies end up in a miscarriage. So it’s not uncommon at all.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: So can you imagine?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, and that’s part of this issue that we really — and I appreciate you both raising it — should really understand in terms of the real-day impact since the Dobbs decision came down on women who are — who are suffering through a miscarriage.
There are countless stories that — there are a couple of stories of — that I heard most recently of women in Florida who were going through a miscarriage, went to get medical help, and were denied because the medical professionals were concerned that they would face a liability or even criminal punishment for helping these women —
MS. DAWSON: Survive.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: — survive.
And they almost bled to death before they were treated.
There’s a young woman — her name is Amanda — in Texas, who I’ve talked with and I’ve spent some time with, she and her husband. Three times she had to go to the emergency room seeking help and denied. And it was only when she contracted sepsis — could have killed her — that they finally said, “We will help you because now it has reached such a crisis proportion.” And these are the stories we know about.
These are the stories we know about, which raises another point on this issue, which has to deal with the judgment that is associated with this. Judging women and making them feel embarrassed or as though they should be ashamed, which has the natural result of making people feel alone and more likely to suffer alone.
You know, we have a history in our country and in the world of shaming women for their sexuality. That’s part of this, right? And so we have to understand also the experience that people are having every day in our country. Right now, many people are having an experience where they feel completely alone and without support, and feel that they are being judged as though they’ve done something wrong.
So this is all very real. And — and we have to hear them and see them even though they may not have the ability to be on the local news every night. We have to know what’s happening and feel a responsibility to stand up.
MS. DAWSON: I feel like so many people in this room are nodding because they have personal stories of their own or have loved ones who have gone through this.
As I’m listening, I’m thinking about my friend, recently, who was, you know, trying to freeze her eggs. She was trying her — you know, doing everything to have a child. Was having pains when she went into the doctor, and they realized she had an ectopic pregnancy.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
MS. DAWSON: She would have died had she not been in New York. And her doctor told her had she been in another state, they would have had to ask permission from the court, and she likely wouldn’t have made it. And now she’s expecting her child, which is really beautiful. (Applause.)
But that could have completely transformed her story.
And I really appreciate you bringing up the issues around rape and incest because, you know, you have a law in Texas that basically says you can do a bounty on a woman for trying to exercise her freedom of choice. And that, for me — when I saw that, I think that only incentivizes rape for people who are targeting women and want to keep them in their lives. You know that you can rape them, get them pregnant, and hold them hostage basically for the rest of their lives. And the fact that they’re being financially incentivized to do that is just the — the insanity of where this has been going with this overturning of Roe v. Wade.
You’ve got people who are suing and pushing back against it, but I’m also hearing about doctors who are deciding that they’re not going to do pregnancies anymore, they’re not going to deliver babies anymore because they don’t want to be caught up. Like, there’s — I’m literally seeing whole hospitals completely transform because the doctors want to be able to treat their patients and not be criminalized because someone had a miscarriage, which is so common — and now that is suspect because they think maybe there was foul play of some kind.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s right.
MS. DAWSON: So I feel with, you know, how serious this is and how prevalent, you know, this issue is in so much of our lives.
We’re all asking that question: What is the Biden-Harris administration doing specifically on this? And how can we be of support of that? What will it take?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: So the work that we are doing is the work within our power. So, for example, through the Health and Human Services, HHS, sending out information and passing rules to protect patients’ privacy. And that gets back to the earlier point about our concern about what could potentially be a deterioration in the relationship that people have with their doctor, because you’re afraid that your records might be public.
So we’ve actually been looking at the HIPAA rules — right? — which, years ago, we all decided this stuff should be private, not a secret. “It’s just my business. If I choose to share it with you, I will.” Right? So HIPAA rules came into being.
But within the HIPAA rules, there was an exception if there was a lawful court order for — for — it had to be for stated reasons. Well, we’re closing that loophole knowing that in many states they’re proposing or passing legislation which does make it a crime. So these are some of the things we’re now having to look at. Right?
We are looking at and notifying that under any circumstance in our country we have rightfully decided no one should be deprived of or denied emergency medical care. So reinforcing that rule that there’s a — it’s basically the — it’s called EMTALA — to make clear, and that the public knows and that providers know, no one can be denied emergency healthcare, and so in these crisis situations that they would not be turned away.
The Department of Justice is looking at the potential for litigation where there are cases that we can, including — they’ve been pulling together pro bono support, so basically private law firms and private lawyers to give free legal advice. Because, again, so many people in the system — be it healthcare providers, clinicians, you know, people who are running clinics — are concerned about their legal liabilities and looking at a potential for not only jail time, but substantial fines.
So this is some of the work that’s happening.
But ultimately, I say to everybody here: What we need is federal legislation to be passed that would put back into place the protections that we had in Roe v. Wade. We need to — we call it codify it. We need to put those protections into law, because if we do that at a federal level, then we — then it will render all these things that are happening in these states null. It will get rid of them, essentially.
We need federal legislation.
So that’s about, again, back to the point about our movement. Our movement to talk to the United States Congress in every way about why this is important and why they must act to protect an individual’s right to make decisions about their own body.
Because the piece about the mifepristone — back to the point of — over half abort- — half of abortions, not to mention miscarriages, are treated with the medication. And so if what’s happening in this court is left to stand, it will in effect be a nationwide ban, which means it could have impact right here in Nevada.
So we have to have a countermovement to what they are attempting to do, which is to create a national ban on the right to make these decisions. And — and the best way to handle this is truly to get the legislation passed to put into law these protections.
And, again, I think there’s another point that is very significant on this issue: One does not have to or need to abandon their faith or deeply held beliefs to agree the government should not be telling her what to do. Right? (Applause.) And that’s — it’s very important.
This is not about attempting to convert people away from their beliefs and their faith. It’s simply saying the government shouldn’t be doing this. That’s up to her.
And if she chooses with her priest or her pastor or her rabbi or whomever — but not the government and not these people who are passing these laws, who — half of them don’t even know how women’s bodies work. (Applause.)
MS. DAWSON: Hello.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: Isn’t that true.
MS. DAWSON: It’s true.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: That is the truth. That is the truth, 100 percent.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Like the six-week ban? I mean, most — most people will not know they’re pregnant. So it is in effect an all-out ban.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: Ban. Right.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right?
MAYOR SCHIEVE: I’m a timeline person. So talk a little bit about like, what — people are always saying, “Like, Mayor Schieve, when? When?” And I’m like — you know, as mayors we’re like “Every day. Every day. You know, it’s critical every single day.”
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: What do you think that that looks like?
And the other thing I want to say: Thank you for being so good to Nevada. I know you were here last summer working with our female majority —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: Right.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And I applaud them. And —
MAYOR SCHIEVE: Give them a big round of applause.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: — yesterday, what they did with the —
MS. DAWSON: (Inaudible) did you see them?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: — proposing a constitutional amendment to actually put it into the Constitution. (Applause.)
MAYOR SCHIEVE: Yeah.
They’re right here.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah, Nevada is showing the way.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: Yeah. That’s why I’m saying — and you’re going to lead.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: Our voices are going to be number one on this issue. That’s why we need everyone in this room to be beside us and be activated.
So, talk about — a little bit about what — what that looks like. Like how can we help you?
Because, listen, one thing I think about Nevada: We aren’t scared.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: We aren’t scared.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, it’s not your way. It’s not your way. (Applause.)
MAYOR SCHIEVE: No. We ain’t scared. We’re coming.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: So it’s — it’s what you’re doing —
MS. DAWSON: Sound like a New Yorker.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: (Laughs.) Yeah.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It’s — what you’re doing at a statewide level is so important. Because it does — I was — when I was speaking with the — with your legislators earlier today, what you’re doing here is so important because it is not only about the protection of the rights of the people of this state, but it is a — an example of the fact that these things can be done. And it’s the right thing to do.
And so it provides the example and also the contrast. And in the contrast lies the ability then, hopefully, to really help people understand what’s wrong with what’s happening in other places.
But what — what can you do here in Nevada? Do everything that we always know we need to do when we’re talking about a national movement. And that means — I’m looking at the students in particular and the young leaders here — use your — your brilliant ability to communicate and to organize to large numbers of people, to keep talking about this issue. Use your ability through social media to tell your peer groups — because, by the way, the largest cohort that will be affected by this are college-age women.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: Absolutely.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And so use your ability to just remind people they’re not alone. Use your ability to talk to large numbers of people to say, “You won’t be judged. You have rights. We will stand with you. We will stand for your rights.”
And then, it’s also — look, elections matter. Elections matter. (Applause.) Bottom line: Elections matter.
And, by the way, local elections matter. I mean, especially in the states that are passing —
MAYOR SCHIEVE: Tremendously so.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right, Mayor?
MAYOR SCHIEVE: I know.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: But we can also —
MAYOR SCHIEVE: We can put a (inaudible).
THE VICE PRESIDENT: In states with — that are passing these cr- — these laws that are making it a crime, who your sheriff is matters.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: (Laughs.) Yeah. So true.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Who your prosecutor is matters. Who your attorney general is matters. You know, who your governor is matters.
And then it matters who is the United States Congress because, ultimately, this is where the movement has to land, which is to get that federal legislation passed.
And so that’s about all that — that Nevadans know how to do to organize around national elections also, to make your voices heard. That if people are going to go to Washington, D.C., to represent you, they got to do the right thing and protect your rights and your freedoms.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: Yeah, very true. I always say people don’t realize, like, how local leaders can really mess up your day by putting a streetlight in the middle of your street, right?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (Laughs.) Or not filling a pothole.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: But we can have the biggest impact. And not only that, we’re so close to people.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: Every single day, we see them in our grocery stores, Little League fields, things like that. We truly are a community.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s right.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: And that’s where I think you have to organize and energize is right here at home in your community.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s right.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: And it’s interesting to me that people always pay, you know, much more attention to sort of — on the federal side, but right here locally is where we can have the massive amount of impact.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Local and statewide, it’s where it’s at. Especially, remember the Dobbs decision really was about pushing it to the states. And, you know, understand that there’s a bigger thing at play here, too, which is about the states’ rights.
You know, so there are going to be people who would like to say that, “Oh, it should be states individually making decisions about big issues,” and that we shouldn’t have any universal kind of national approach and standards to things like climate change.
You know, understand that there are many layers to this issue, including an attempt to change the way that we think about national standards to say, “Oh, okay, no, leave it to each state to make their decision.” And how that could carry over into other issues like, I don’t know, EPA standards — things like that.
MS. DAWSON: Well, I mean, since we’re talking about reproductive freedom, it would be remiss not to mention and talk about the galvanization that’s happening, especially with young people, around gun violence.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
MS. DAWSON: And you talk about the movement and the moment that it is here in Nevada.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: Nevada — sorry. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Nevada.
MS. DAWSON: Nevada.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: We practiced this back there. What happened?
MS. DAWSON: I know. Did I do it? I did it.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: Nevada.
MS. DAWSON: Ah, I did it right the first time, right?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.,
MAYOR SCHIEVE: Nevada. Nevada.
MS. DAWSON: Okay, Nevada. No, I got it. I got it.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (Laughs.) Okay.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: That’s right.
MS. DAWSON: You know, this is especially important because obviously one of the largest, deadliest mass shootings in modern history occurred here October 1st, 2017. So you speak a lot to movement, right? And we’re seeing a lot of traction in young people, who are really galvanized around that issue. So please do speak to that.
And also speak to exactly what we were just saying, which is, you know, on these midterm elections when we don’t have, you know, the media covering it as much as we have a, you know, national election, we don’t show up. And so, on this issue and reproductive justice, I don’t feel like I’m seeing the same kind of masses and numbers showing up on this.
And in the same way as when you’re traveling to a different state, you don’t want a state deciding whether or not it’s okay for you to get shot there. And you don’t want to be found out that your ectopic pregnancy is going to kill you because you happen to be visiting or going to that’s — a different university school from a state that has different laws. So —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: So, on the issue of gun violence, a report came out recently — the most recent report: Gun violence is the number-one killer of children in America. Number-one killer of children in America is gun violence.
One in five Americans know someone who died because of gun violence. One in five. Think about that.
I was in Nashville, Tennessee, recently. It was the — I went the day after they expelled — tried to expel two members of the Tennessee Three and — the “Justins” — in their 20s. And, you know, I’m sure everybody is familiar with what happened there. But they were — those — those legislators, the three of them, were simply trying to discuss and require debate on the issue of reasonable gun safety laws.
And, unlike here, the majority of the legislature there doesn’t have the kind of courage that the majority of the legislature has here. And so, what happened? Because it is definitely a — I was going to say a word I shouldn’t say, but it was a move that — (laughter) — that was not a courageous move.
That — they — they basically — they turned off the microphones. They literally turned off the microphones on these legislators trying to debate the issue of gun safety laws — like, I don’t know, the gun safety law that says that we might want to think about banning assault weapons because they are weapons of war. (Applause.)
That we should have universal background checks — (applause) — because you might want to know if someone is a danger to themselves or others before you let them buy a gun.
Red-flag laws. Let’s let people and families speak on these issues.
And they turned off their microphones, which is so symbolic of what’s happening on this issue and the debate. So you don’t even want to have the discussion. Because to have the discussion would mean that you’re going to have to speak to Sandy Hook, Uvalde, what happened in Las Vegas on October 1. They turned off the mics.
But here’s what I loved — what the Tennessee Three did. They found a bullhorn. They found a bullhorn. (Laughs.) They were not going to be silenced. And we cannot be silenced.
And again, when I point to those — the Justins, in particular, who are in their 20s, and the leaders who are here: You know, you all, for the most part, had to grow up where you were learning how to read and write and duck if there was a gunman coming in — breaking into the school — an active shooter.
You know, I grew up in California. We learned to duck if there was an earthquake —
MS. DAWSON: Right. That’s right.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: — not because there was a shooter.
And what — I’ve talked to students, younger students in particular, who will talk about the fact that they don’t — they — they’ll go into class — like middle school and high school students actually, who will talk about the fact that, “Well, you know, I don’t like going into fifth period because that classroom doesn’t have a closet.” Or —
MAYOR SCHIEVE: How do they learn in that environment?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right? Or they’re — the configuration of the classroom is, such that if they’re facing the chalkboard or the teacher, and their back is to the door. So, half the time they’re worried of something might come in.
The trauma — the undiagnosed trauma that our students are facing because of this issue.
And then you look at the statistics that most recently came out. We must act on this. We must act on this.
And, again, it’s a false choice to suggest you’re either in favor of the Second Amendment or reasonable gun safety laws.
I, for one, am in favor of both. (Applause.)
So, a lot of work to do. And to your point, the movement. But, you know, I look at a lot of the students who have been leading on this, who have been, you know, going to Washington, D.C., and marching and marching on state capitols. Keep it up. Keep it up. Keep it up. Because it matters, and it will make a difference.
And I think, ultimately, with all of these movements, we have to remember — you know, there’s a saying that Coretta Scott King had that I’ll paraphrase that I love and I say it a lot. She said, famously: The fight for civil rights — which insert the right — the fight for justice, the fight for equality, the fight for fairness — the fight for civil rights must be fought and won with each generation.
And I think she had two points. One is that it is the very nature of the gains that we make that they will not be permanent unless — and here’s the second point — we are vigilant in fighting to maintain them and to maintain our standards for what makes for a civil society where people’s rights, including the right to be safe, the right to have certain fundamental freedoms, are intact.
And so, again, let’s — this is not a time to throw up our hands; this is a time to roll up our sleeves.
MS. DAWSON: Mm-hmm. Exactly. (Applause.) Roll up your sleeves. Right?
MAYOR SCHIEVE: So I’m a big believer in positive mental health and now more than ever — and probably much like both of you — speak to a lot of young women that want to become engaged, involved. A lot of them want to run for office. How many future mayors out there, future vice presidents? Raise your hand.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hey, hey!
MAYOR SCHIEVE: Come on, all you girls right here better raise your hand. (Applause.) Right here. See? Right here. Going to take our job.
But what would you tell them? Because a lot of times I hear them saying, “What is happening today is truly scaring me.” And I could see how they are having anxiety about stepping into that role. Because now — I think politics has changed dramatically in the last 10 years that I’ve been in politics.
So, what do you tell young women that want to get involved and run for office, but also — I mean, we’re living, like you said, incredibly difficult times. And these are challenging issues and attacks on women. So, what do you tell them?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, a few things. One, have ambition. Go for it. And don’t ever be apologetic for having ambition and dreaming with ambition. That’s a good thing. It’s good for our country that you have ambition and aspirations. It is good for our country.
I was with Governor Sandoval, meeting with some of the students here who are student leaders. And we talked also about — I talked with the students about the importance of knowing you’re not alone. Right? So, for many of us, there will be many times when we walk into a room and we’re the only one like us in that room — the only one with our life experience or our background or who looks like us.
And it is very important that you never walk in those rooms and feel alone, because you are not. We are all in that room with you. And we are applauding you. And we expect you to walk in that room, chin up and shoulders back, because you carry our voice with you. And that is your responsibility and your duty, and we’re so proud of you.
And so, when you talk about how people are feeling and how that might deter them or cause some hesitance to run for an office or to lead, you got to know that you got a lot of people who are rooting you on. And sometimes you may not see them, but we’re there. And don’t ever lose confidence in the fact that we’re there and we’re proud of you.
And the other piece is also — look, I don’t hear “no” until probably maybe the 10th time that I hear it. (Laughter.) I don’t hear “no.”
MAYOR SCHIEVE: That’s persistence. I love it.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don’t hear “no.”
And — you know, and so don’t you ever listen — especially to the young women that you’re asking about — you know, you’re gonna be told, “Ah, they’re not ready for you. There is nobody like you who has done it before. Oh, you’re too young. Oh, that’s going to be hard work.”
MAYOR SCHIEVE: Isn’t that true? We always hear that one.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Don’t you listen. Don’t you dare listen. I like to say, “I eat ‘no’ for breakfast.” (Laughter.)
MAYOR SCHIEVE: There you go.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Don’t you hear “no.” And — and know that we’re applauding you and that you are — we need you. And we need you. We just need you.
MAYOR SCHIEVE: Absolutely.
MS. DAWSON: We need you. It’s so beautiful seeing this room full of men and women.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I know.
MS. DAWSON: I’m sure all genders are being represented here. We need that. We need a galvanized, robust movement of people. And I’m just so grateful for this conversation — that it brought all of you together. See how likeminded you are. We can all make a huge impact and difference, because we do need you. We need each other.
We are all individually just one vote, one yell — you know, one — one person, you know, who’s working, but it takes all of us to make that difference. And it is — there is a countermovement.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s right.
MS. DAWSON: Since the second Roe v. Wade was put in, it was — there was a fight to push back against it. And with the FDA move right now, they’re trying backdoor ways to take away our rights. We cannot let them right.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s right. That’s right.
MS. DAWSON: We need to be strong. We need to be using that fear, that anxiety, that anger to give us that energy to come at it.
So, I just want to say thank you so much —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MS. DAWSON: — for letting me see this, because I’m so moved to see all of you here. And I know we can win if we do it together. So, thank you. (Applause.)
MS. DAWSON: Talk about being told “no.” I love your “yes.” I love how you turn your “nos” into “yeses.”
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Oh, you must.
MS. DAWSON: So, thank you for saying yes for having this conversation with us.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: We must.
And my final point before we part today is: When I — when I talk about the importance of this movement — and we talked about in terms of not only the people of this state, but around our country — but this is also having global impact.
So, as your Vice President, I have now met with over 100, world leaders — presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, and kings.
And here’s the thing. When we walk in those rooms, representing the United States of America, we walk in with a certain authority to talk about the importance of democracies.
And we walk in those rooms then, and we talk about the importance of rule of law, human rights, because we have rightly held ourselves out to be the strongest and greatest democracy. And so, we have held ourselves out to be a role model of what that means.
Well, this is an auditorium full of role models. So here’s the other thing we know about being a role model: People watch what you do to see if it matches what you say.
And in that way, one of my great fears about this issue, in terms of its global impact, is that authoritarian rulers, dictators will look at their people who are fighting for their rights and say to them, “You know, you wanted to keep holding out the United States. Well, look at what they’re doing. You be quiet.”
What is happening right now in our country, I would argue, will have an impact on people around the globe in some way.
The stakes are very high, and we are up to this. We like a good fight when it’s a fight for freedom and liberty. We like a good fight when it’s about fighting for people’s rights and their dignity and their right to self-determination. That’s who we are. So we are up for this.
So let’s get out there and do what needs to get done. And, for the folks here, I’ll say just do it the Nevada way because you guys know how to get stuff done.
Thank you. (Applause.)
Official news published at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2023/04/19/remarks-by-vice-president-harris-in-a-moderated-conversation-on-reproductive-rights/