What Hillary Clinton said to Planned Parenthood

Maya Harris
Jan 11, 2016 · 10 min read

Inspired by Hillary Clinton’s lifelong commitment to reproductive rights, the extraordinarily high stakes in this election, and their confidence that Hillary is the candidate who has what it takes to wage a fight on behalf of women and families, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund made their first-ever endorsement of a presidential candidate in a primary.

Yesterday, Hillary officially accepted the endorsement in front of Planned Parenthood patients, providers, and supporters from across the country. Here’s what she had to say:

Are you guys ready to win an election? Well, I sure am. I’m ready — with your help. And I am so honored to accept this endorsement of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

As Cecile just said, I have stood with you throughout my life and certainly throughout my career. And I promise you this: As your President, I will always have your back. We will work and fight together.

Now, this has been a pretty energetic and even emotional afternoon. Because you heard so many great advocates, so many people who are on the front lines, fighting to preserve women’s rights. I want to thanks some of them. I want to thank Kelley, the great emcee.

Hillary and Cecile listen to Natarsha, whose life was saved by a cancer screening at Planned Parenthood.

I want to thank Dr. Donna Burkett. I want to thank Natarsha from Brooklyn, for her story. She is a patient advocate. I want to thank Hana from Las Vegas, she’s a student advocate. I want to thank Crystal from right here in New Hampshire who is also a patient, and a volunteer both for Planned Parenthood and my campaign. And I appreciate both.

I also want to thank the members of Congress, present and future who are here: Annie Kuster, from New Hampshire, Niki Tsongas from Massachusetts, Carol Shea-Porter, former and future member of Congress from right here in New Hampshire.

I want to thank everyone associated with Planned Parenthood, form the board to the staff to the supporters one and all. And I particularly want to thank your fearless leader, Cecile Richards.

There’s a lot about Cecile that I really admire. And among the long list, when the Republicans demanded that she testify before Congress, they did not know what they were getting themselves into. I know a little bit about this. It’s one of my common experiences with Cecile.

Because for five hours, Republicans bullied and blustered. Cecile never flinched. She just told them the facts — and you know a lot of Republicans are kind of fact-adverse.

They didn’t want to hear any of that. They do seem to live in an “evidence free zone,” just like the Republican candidates for President.

And when it was over, I saw an interview where someone asked Cecile: How did you do it? How did you stay so poised in the face of such breathtaking contempt for women’s health, for women’s rights, for women’s dignity?

You know what her answer was? When you’re standing up for what’s right, you keep going.

And that’s what Planned Parenthood has done for nearly 100 years. It’s certainly what Cecile Richards has done. She comes by that grit and determination from her wonderful mother, who I was privileged to know. I wish Ann Richards could be here with us for this election.

Wouldn’t you love to hear her give Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and the others a piece of her mind? Oh boy, so would I.

Every election is important. But this one poses such a stark choice and the stakes are so high. In January of 2017, a new president will walk into the Oval Office. America cannot afford for it to be a Republican who will rip away all the progress we have made.

You hear them, you hear what they’re saying, as they joust for position: the same top-down policies that failed and led to the Great Recession. They don’t even seem to understand what’s going on in the lives of Americans, whether it’s economic policy or health care policy or foreign policy, they’re so out of touch and out of date

This year, they succeeded in passing a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act and defund Planned Parenthood. And the only thing, as Cecile said, stopping them from making that law of the land was President Obama’s veto pen.

And every one of them has promised to sign such a bill. And you know what that would mean.

When Planned Parenthood is threatened, the health of women — and a lot of men, too — all across our country is threatened.

Just like here in New Hampshire when the executive council voted to defund Planned Parenthood in the Granite State.

Without the Affordable Care Act, 19 million Americans now would lose their healthcare coverage. Insurance companies would be back in charge. They’d be free to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, free to go back to charging women more for our health care than men.

So clearly we can’t let that happen. And therefore we need a Democratic nominee who will be able to beat the Republicans and get the job done for Americans.

I shudder to think about what the Republicans would do, if given the chance. We know any Republican president will accelerate the assault on access to safe and legal abortion. And think about this: The next president could easily appoint more than one justice to the Supreme Court.

Already the Court is getting ready to consider a Texas law that imposes burdensome and medically unnecessary requirements on abortion providers.

If these restrictions are allowed to stand, 5.4 million women will be left with just 10 health centers across that huge expanse of Texas that provide necessary services. And the effects of that decision would ripple out across our country. It’s the biggest challenge to Roe v. Wade in a generation.

The Court will also review another challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit.

Remember the Hobby Lobby decision that made it possible for a woman’s employer to limit her health care choices? Well, that fight’s not over either. Access to affordable birth control is still hanging in the balance at the Supreme Court.

Now if a Republican wins this election and gets the chance to stack the Supreme Court with right-wing justices, together they will accelerate the move to take America in the wrong direction on so many issues that you and I have fought for, and that many Americans now take for granted.

They want to strip workers’ rights and make it harder to organize. They want to turn back the clock on voting rights and LGBT rights. They want to further gut campaign finance reform and let billionaires and corporations keep buying our elections.

Now the Republican candidate won’t fight to raise the minimum wage, or to do what is necessary to make sure that women finally get equal pay for the work we do. They all want to cut taxes further for the super-rich and get out of the way of corporations.

2015 was the second hottest year on record, but some Republican candidates deny that climate change even exists. You know what they say, well, I’m not a scientist. Well, there is an easy answer to that. Go talk to a scientist!

In fact, on all of these issues, I don’t know who they spend their time talking to or listening to. Honest to goodness, they don’t believe in any of the things that I’m fighting for: equal pay, combatting climate change, raising incomes for working Americans.

I see them talking to people — I’ve concluded that they have this group of actions, they just move from place to place.

Because nobody every stands up and says what I hear from the thousands of people that I listen to.

You don’t have to take it from me, though. They’re saying it all themselves. They’re telling you exactly what they’ll do if they get elected. And you know what? We should believe them.

We should believe them because they are so far out in saying what they will do. They will be held to that, and some of them even believe it. So that’s why we have to know exactly where we stand.

And I want you to know where I stand.

First of all, I will always defend Planned Parenthood.

And I will say, consistently and proudly: Planned Parenthood should be funded, supported, and appreciated — not undermined, misrepresented, and demonized.

I believe we need to protect access to safe and legal abortion — not just in principle, but in practice.

Any right that requires you to take extraordinary measures to access it is no right at all. Not when patients and providers have to endure harassment and intimidation just to walk into a health center.

Not when making an appointment means taking time off from work, finding child care, and driving halfway across your state. Not when providers are required by state law to recite misleading information to women in order to shame and scare them.

And not as long as we have laws on the books like the Hyde Amendment making it harder for low-income women to exercise their full rights.

Now, when I talk like this — and I do often — Republicans say I’m playing the gender card. Well, if fighting for equal pay, paid leave, and Planned Parenthood is playing the gender card — deal me in.

So I want you also to know: I will always stand up for access to affordable contraception, without interference from politicians or employers. Birth control is basic health care, and it plays a vital role in the health of millions of women and their families.

I waged a fight with my good friend, Senator Patty Murray from Washington, when I was in the Senate in order to make sure that emergency contraception should be over the counter.

And we waged that battle for years. We held up a Bush appointee to the Food and Drug Administration and we finally won. That’s what I promise you: I will never give up and I will never back up.

And I will support comprehensive, inclusive sex education. For goodness sakes, people deserve accurate information. I thought we were an open society. Well we’re going to make sure that’s true across the board.

And I will defend and improve the Affordable Care Act. You may remember, as Cecile said, that when I was First Lady, I fought to give every American access to quality, affordable health care. And I still have the scars to prove it.

And when the insurance companies and the drug companies and their allies blocked our way, I was disappointed — but not discouraged. I went back to work, with leaders on both sides of the aisle, to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program to provide coverage and care for 8 million children.

And two decades later, I was so proud to be part of President Obama’s administration when he signed the Affordable Care Act into law.

As your president, I will do more to bring down costs for families, and to ease burdens on small businesses, and to make sure that consumers have the choices they deserve.

Nobody in America should have to choose between getting health care or paying their rent.

We can fix this. But only if we elect a President who has what it takes to get the job done for American families, to take on issues as big as the world and as small as your kitchen table.

I’ve been fighting for women and families my entire life. I will go anywhere, anytime, to meet with anyone and work my heart out to find common ground. But I will also stand my ground.

I’m not going to let anyone rip away the progress we’ve made. That’s why hedge fund billionaires are already running ads against me. That’s why the Koch Brothers are promising to spend whatever it takes to stop me. Because they know I will defeat their right-wing, top-down agenda that is so bad for America

Now Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and their powerful friends may be trying to drag us back to the Stone Age. But we’ve got our sights set on the future. Because in spite of the challenges we face, I believe our best days are ahead of us. There’s so much we can do together.

Just look at Planned Parenthood. Every single day, at health centers across America, people are doing extraordinary things together, sometimes under enormous stress and pressure.

When a man who never should have been allowed to have a gun in the first place killed three people at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, the community came together to mourn.

The very next day, Planned Parenthood staff got up and went to work in Colorado and across the country, providing birth control, STD testing, cancer screenings, and yes, abortion services.

Every time a patient called to ask if they could still come in for their appointment, there was only one response: These doors stay open.

Those four words sum up everything you need to know about Planned Parenthood, don’t they?

When you’re standing up for what’s right, you keep going.

I was raised by a mother who had a difficult childhood. She was abandoned, mistreated, and out on her own as a house-maid by the time she was 14. But she never stopped believing that the future could be better.

She never stopped being grateful for the second, third, and fourth chances that people gave her in our country. And now, I have this amazing 15-month old granddaughter and I think about her every day. And of course, I will do whatever I can to make sure she has every opportunity.

But here’s what I have concluded, now that I’m a member of the grandparents’ club: That’s not enough. It matters what kind of country she grows up in and what kind of world is out there waiting for her.

It matters not just that my grandchild can realize the promise of America, but that everybody’s child and grandchild has the same opportunity.

Together, we can have the America that we all believe is possible. And I need your help to do that. I need your help starting here in the New Hampshire primary and the Iowa caucus. We can win this election. We can build that better future.

And yes indeed, a future where a father can tell his daughter, you can be anything you want to be, including president of the United States.

Thank you very much!

Maya Harris

Written by

Mom, wife, sister, lawyer, advocate | Senior Policy Advisor @HillaryClinton for America #Hillary2016

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade