State Dining Room
2:44 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Well, good afternoon, folks.
Doctor, thank you for sharing your story. And I’m sure there’s others like it many doctors across America have had to contemplate.
Fifty-one years ago today, in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court recognized a woman’s constitutional right to choose — constitutional right to choose — the right to make a deeply personal decision with her doctor, free from the interference of politicians.
I believe Roe v. Wade was right. I’m not supporting — we didn’t — they didn’t support abortion on demand. It was Roe v. Wade. Roe v. Wade was the decision. And a majority of Americans agree.
But then, a year and a half ago, this — this Supreme Court — this Supreme Court made an extreme decision, overturning Roe with their Dobbs decision, to rip away a constitutional right from the American people, which had never been done before — a fundamental right ripped away — important to so many Americans, a right that is vital to a country founded on the idea of freedom.
I said on the — on that day that Roe was overturned, the health and lives of women in this nation would now be at risk. And that has unfortunately proven to be true. They have been at risk. It made them at risk — put them at risk.
Today, in 2024 in America, women are turned away from emergency rooms, forced to travel hundreds of miles to get basic healthcare in another state that may have a different rule, forced to go to court to plead for help.
Thanks to [Think of] the mothers of two in Texas — a mother of two in Texas, who was pregnant with her third child. From her doctor, she received the news no one wants to hear: The life of the child and her own life were at risk if she continued her pregnancy. But instead of being able to receive care from her doctor, she was blocked by the State of Texas Attorney General and the State Supreme Court.
Think about that. As she and her family were going through the frightening, heartbreaking ordeal, she had to fight extreme politicians in the court. They turned a deeply private and painful matter into a public matter.
She ultimately had to leave the state to get the help she needed to protect herself and her ability to have more children in the future.
The cruelty is astounding — an affront to a woman’s dignity, being told by extreme politicians to wait, to get sicker and sicker to the point where her life may be in danger before you can get the care you need.
That cruel reality is the result of extreme Republicans who, for years, have made it their mission to end the Roe v. Wade decision.
Since Roe was overturned, in 21 states, abortion bans are now in effect, many with no exception for rape or incest.
We have doctors — we have doctors with us today who are on the frontlines of this crisis. And they can attest to the consequences that these extreme laws are having on doctors and on their ability to care for their patients.
Some doctors are feeling their — fleeing their home states because of laws that would send them to prison for providing evidence-based healthcare.
In states like Texas, doctors can get a life sentence — a life sentence for providing the care they were trained to provide. It’s outrageous. It’s simply outrageous.
And, frankly, this is just the beginning.
My congressional Republican friends are going to even further — further extremes to undermine a woman’s rights to threaten — and threatening the lives of women.
Three different Republican members in the United States Congress have proposed three different additional national bans to criminalize healthcare in every state. Let me tell you what they are.
One is a zero-week ban with absolutely no exceptions — a zero-week with absolutely no exceptions. The second is a six-week ban. The penalty for violating it is jail. The third is a 15-week ban. The penalty is a five-year prison sentence.
That means even if you live in a state where the extremist Republicans are not running the show, your right to choose, your right to privacy would still be at risk if this law was passed — any of these were passed nationally.
And the extreme right is trying to limit all women in America from getting a safe and effective medication, approved by the Federal Drug Administration over 20 years ago based on the FDA’s independent expert judgment. They’re trying to block women from getting this medication even in states where abortion is legal.
And on top of all of that, if you live in a state where you cannot get this care you need and you make a plan to travel to a state where you can get the medicine [medical care], Republicans official [Republican officials] are trying to stop that as well.
And get this, in Alabama — as my mother would say, “God love them” — the Attorney General is threatening to prosecute people who help family members travel to another state — who help family members travel to another state.
Folks, this is what it looks like when the right to privacy is under attack. These extreme laws have no place — no place in the United States of America.
You know, the American people know these laws are wrong. The vast majority of Americans believe the right to choose is fundamental.
Since the Court overturned Roe v. Wade, every single time abortion has been on the ballot — and, by the way, a lot of people don’t really understand. The Court said that it’s up to the states to decide whether or not abortions are valid. So, it says that if the cou- — if the state comes along and wants to say, “No, no, it’s valid in my state — Roe v. Wade is valid in my state,” it’s allowed.
Well, guess what? Every single time that decision had been put before the people of a state — on the ballot in Ohio, Kansas, Michigan, Kentucky — voters have voted to protect reproductive rights. But we need these protections in every state, because your family [ability] to have access to healthcare should not depend on your ZIP code. It should not depend on your ZIP code.
As I’ve made clear, we have to do what the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs would allow, and that is: Congress must codify Roe v. Wade for all the states in America.
Stop playing politics with the women’s lives and freedom. Let doctors do their job.
Let me say it again: Pass laws restoring the protections of Roe v. Wade for women in every state. That’s what can be done under this co- — on the — even under the Dobbs decision. But under this Court, that is going to be constitutional if we pass it nationwide.
That’s what I’m working for. I’m working for that law. And when they send me that law, I’m going to sign it immediately and restore that right. Until then, my administration is going to keep working to protect women in the wake of the Supreme Court’s extreme decision.
That’s why I created a task force to ensure we are doing everything we can to support women.
I’ve signed executive orders and my administration has taken action to ensure that women get the care they need in medical emergencies, to protect a woman’s right to travel to get healthcare, to protect a woman’s right to receive healthcare free from discrimination, and to protect her privacy.
The idea that a woman should have to carry a fetus after she has been raped or a victim of incest is just — I think it’s just cruel. To me, it’s outrageous.
The idea that a woman who receives competent medical advice that the fetus she’s carrying wouldn’t live and will impact on her ability to have children in the future and still gets [can’t get] medical care — can’t get medical — it’s ridiculous.
I could go on, but I’m already taking too much time.
I want to thank the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, for her leadership on this important issue as she travels the country in her fight for freedom.
I’d also like to thank the Gender Policy Advisor — my Gender Policy Advisor, Jen Klein. Jen — where’s Jen sitting? There you are, Jen. Thank you. And Secretary Becerra, who’s sitting right next to her, for their leadership on this task force.
And I want to thank all the members of my Cabinet here today, including the Attorney General for leading efforts and the — at the Department of Justice to protect reproductive rights in court, and Secretary McDonough for leading the important work being done at the VA.
I know that folks across America are worried about what they’re seeing happening to women all across America. I hear about it everywhere I go.
My message is: We’re fighting hard to reinstate your rights and the rights to protect women and families and doctors who care for those women.
And we need the American people to keep making their voices heard so congr- — so congressional Republicans finally get the message that these laws do not represent the United States of America.
Your voice will have a final say. This is not over.
With that, I’m going to sit down, and we’re going to get to work.
Thank you all for being here. And let’s get this done. It’s important.
Thank you. (Applause.)
2:54 P.M. EST