Hillary Clinton delivered an extraordinary speech to Planned Parenthood, her first post-victory speech as the first female presidential nominee of a major party in the nation’s history. I don’t recall ever having heard a speech dedicated to women’s healthcare from a presidential nominee. This is what a feminist presidential nominee looks like.
Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, introduced Hillary by saying that their endorsement of her isn’t just about electing any woman to the presidency — but about electing this woman, Hillary Clinton, who is a resolute defender of, and advocate for, reproductive justice.
And then Hillary came to the stage – and proved exactly why she has earned the trust of Planned Parenthood, reproductive healthcare providers all over the country, and millions of women and men, who all know she has our backs.
“I’ve been proud to stand with Planned Parenthood for a long time,” Hillary told the enthusiastic crowd. “And as president, I will always have your back.”
This statement alone, from a major party presidential nominee, was thrilling to hear. But Hillary did not stop there. (She never does.) She made it plain that she is not afraid to give a full-throated defense of access to abortion:
And, it is worth saying again: defending women’s health means defending access to abortion – not just in theory, but in reality. We know that restricting access doesn’t make women less likely to end a pregnancy. It just makes abortion less safe. And that then threatens women’s lives.
And she made the case, once again, that treating access to abortion is not separate from all the other issues of concern to all people — but inextricably tied to them, because women are half the population: “For too long, issues like these have been dismissed by many as ‘women’s issues’ – as though that somehow makes them less worthy, secondary. Well, yes, these are women’s issues. They’re also family issues. They’re economic issues. They’re justice issues. They’re fundamental to our country and our future.”
Her speech also laid out some important policy proposals, including: Defending Planned Parenthood against partisan attacks; fighting the erosion of reproductive rights at the federal, state, and local levels; ensuring that patients and staff can enter clinics without harassment or violence; advocating for access to affordable contraception; strengthening and improving the Affordable Care Act; and taking action to address the Zika virus.
And the crown jewel in her platform: “Let’s repeal laws like the Hyde Amendment that make it nearly impossible for low-income women, disproportionately women of color, to exercise their full reproductive rights.”
She talked about the intersection of race and poverty with reproductive justice. She mentioned the role of providers in providing compassionate care to survivors of sexual assault. She noted that although Planned Parenthood overwhelmingly serves women, they also make a place for trans men (and genderqueer folks) who often struggle to find reproductive healthcare providers who welcome them.
Hillary’s vision of comprehensive reproductive justice was exactly what I wanted to hear from a presidential candidate — what I have been wanting to hear for a very long time.
Which is not to say that I have not heard these words from Hillary before. To the absolute contrary, she has been so consistent in her increasingly inclusive advocacy that I knew to a T what to expect she would say. She’s no Janie-Come-Lately to reproductive justice, and I have been listening.
It is to say that I haven’t heard a presidential candidate give a speech like this: These ideas, this commitment, this expertise, in that space.
She is making history not just because she is first in this particular position. It is because she is using the position to be a champion for women in a way no previous president has — or could have.
And the next time you hear someone say there isn’t a universe of difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, point them in the direction of this speech.
Donald Trump said that women should be punished for having abortions.
Hillary Clinton said that legal abortion “not only saved women’s lives, it also transformed them – because it meant that women were able to get educations, build careers, enter new fields, and rise as far as their talent and hard work would take them – all the opportunities that follow when women are able to stay healthy and choose whether and when to become mothers.”
The difference between those two positions is clear – to anyone who cares about women enough to pay attention.