Pelosi Remarks Accepting Margaret Sanger Award at Planned Parenthood Annual Gala


Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi accepted the Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Margaret Sanger Award at the organization’s Annual Gala Dinner.  The Margaret Sanger Award, which is Planned Parenthood’s highest honor, recognizes leadership, excellence, and outstanding contributions in the fight to provide and protect women’s health services.  Below is a transcript of the Leader’s remarks:

“I’m speechless.  Not really.

[Laughter]

“Thank you, Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, for your generous introduction, and for your strong, visionary leadership.

[Applause]

“To watch Cecile at work is to see a portrait of grace, intellect and determination.  That’s what I saw when she served as my Deputy Chief of Staff.  That’s what the nation sees as she leads Planned Parenthood so excellently.  Let’s applaud our leader, Cecile Richards.

[Applause]

“We’re all so very, very proud of Cecile.  And on top of it all, boundless energy – the stamina, the enthusiasm, that she has for a woman’s right to choose.

“Congratulations to all of the recipients of tonight’s honors and awards.  I’m honored to be receiving it with Mayor Bloomberg – wow.  Thank you, Mayor Bloomberg, for your generosity and your leadership.  Reverend William Barber of the North Carolina NAACP, the ‘Care. No Matter What.’ Award.  Wow.  Isn’t he remarkable?  Shouldn’t the whole country hear him?

[Applause]

“And the whole country can see ‘Being Mary Jane’ and ‘The Fosters.’  Congratulations to the producers and actors for the Maggie Awards that they received.  And, there’s another award that is a surprise.  So, I will just say, for whatever awardees there are this evening…

[Laughter]

“…because I was supposed to go last, and all of a sudden they told me: ‘You’re ahead, so don’t mention who the surprise awardee is.’  But, congratulations.

[Laughter]

“I do want to acknowledge Alexis McGill Johnson, Chair of Planned Parenthood…

[Applause]

“….and the entire leadership of this outstanding organization: I thank all of you for the honor of receiving the Margaret Sanger Award.  And thank all of you from all over the country.  I’ve met so many of you during cocktails.  I spent some time in the California Room.  Many Californians here.

[Applause]

“With all my colleagues, Donna Edwards is here with many friends from Maryland…

[Applause]

“To each and every one of you, for what you do in the community.  And community is a really important word, and a very important word here this evening.  Because we saw the sense of community – the interconnectedness of all of our important issues, about respect for the dignity and judgment of individuals.  And as my colleagues and I discuss these issues, we always say:  Just remember – in the word ‘community’ is the word ‘unity.’   And that unity that we all have to have fighting for each other, for rights, for freedom, for opportunity, for justice – that unity is our strength.

“To be associated with the great Margaret Sanger is a distinct privilege.  To be associated with past winners of this Margaret Sanger award is among my highest honors.  I accept this honor tonight on behalf of my colleagues.  For all the things that were said about me by Cecile and in the video – my colleagues are the ones who have fought the fight for you and with you.  And I’ll talk more about health care in just a moment.

“But a little more about Margaret Sanger:  In March 1919, Margaret Sanger wrote words considered revolutionary by some at that time.  She said:  ‘Woman must not accept; she must challenge.  She must not be told how to use her freedom; she must find out for herself… Her eyes must be less upon what is – more clearly upon what should be.’  Margaret Sanger understood that women should never be silent – not when their fundamental rights are at stake.  She knew that positive change seldom came to those who waited; it came to those who worked and struggled, who acted, agitated, and fought for equality.  She recognized, as your theme declares this evening, that women are ‘stronger together.’

[Applause]

“Out of this philosophy and outlook emerged the spirit and driving force of what would become known as the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.  Planned Parenthood is a great title – and it’s a great idea: Planned Parenthood.  And over nearly a century of activism and leadership for women and their families, Planned Parenthood has never accepted an unacceptable status quo.  Planned Parenthood has challenged it.  Planned Parenthood has seen what is and acted for what should be – always knowing that we are ‘stronger together.’

[Applause]

“So I thank you, and I congratulate all of you for what you’ve done.  Over the years, the opponents of family planning have targeted Planned Parenthood for one reason, and one reason only: Planned Parenthood is effective.

[Applause]

“Planned Parenthood is effective in the global fight.  As I’ve travelled throughout the world, you see very poor women.  For example in India.  And they call you over and say – they have one thing to ask for: ‘Please do not stop family planning assistance for us.’  When we need to combat the global gag rule; when we see efforts to defund the UNFPA and its essential efforts – Planned Parenthood is there to empower women with the freedom they deserve.  And that’s why the opponents of family planning have targeted Planned Parenthood.

[Applause]

‘Planned Parenthood is effective in the national fight, here at home.  When we see some in Congress and state and local governments acting to undermine women’s health, Planned Parenthood is there, on the front lines, to protect the freedom of America’s women.

[Applause]

“Today, that fight is in the Supreme Court, with Planned Parenthood’s cause front and center in the Hobby Lobby case.  There is little doubt: allowing employers to limit women’s health decisions is out of touch and out of step with what the majority of Americans believe: women’s health care decisions should be made by women themselves.

[Applause]

“Everyone woman knows – as Cecile said earlier – every woman knows: it is not my boss’ business.

[Applause]

“Today, another key fight at the state and national level is in the form of the personhood amendment.  The facts are simple.  Planned Parenthood, as I said earlier, Planned Parenthood – a great idea.  The personhood amendment – a very bad idea.

[Applause]

“Not only would it undermine women’s reproductive health – think of this, for all their talk about – whatever…

[Laughter]

“…not only would undermine women’s reproductive health – it would prohibit in vitro fertilization, therefore preventing many families from having children.  Think of the blessings that that has provided for children, for families across our country.  That’s why the amendment was defeated in Mississippi and in Colorado.

[Applause]

“Now, its proponents want to make it national.  They want to go national with this.  It must be defeated again.

[Applause]

“Just to give you a little perspective: I saw in one of the earlier films, a film of a colleague in Congress speaking against Planned Parenthood on the floor, and then hearing some of the other discussion here this evening.  I thought it might be useful just to tell you: when I first went to Congress – and I’m usually pretty, shall we say, passionate about my issues, but dispassionate in how I deal with them.  You just have to be calm, professional.  But I really can’t contain myself when they start going after a woman’s right to choose.

“So in the early days of my being in Congress, I went to the floor – and they were saying all these things and I thought: ‘That’s not right, they don’t understand.’  So I got up and I told them, that I, as a Catholic, have five children.  The day that I brought my fifth child home from the hospital, that week my oldest child was turning six.  So you know I understood all about this.

[Laughter]

“But it’s really, really important for everyone to have the ability to make her own decisions.  And I was being, I thought, thoughtful and nice.  That was the end of that.

[Laughter]

“So guess what they said?  One of them got up – after I thought I had been very gracious and was trying to find common ground with them – and he got up and said: ‘Nancy Pelosi thinks she knows more about having babies than the Pope!’

[Laughter]

“Yeah, think the Pope would agree.  I think the Pope would agree.

[Laughter]

“That was for you, Tig. I thought I would engage in a little humor.  How’d I do?  Okay?

[Laughter]

“But, when you see how closed their minds are and how oblivious or whatever it is – dumb…

[Applause]

“…then you know what the fight is about.  So again, Planned Parenthood is leading the charge on so many fronts across the country, standing strong for a basic principle: we must respect women’s judgment – this is about respecting women’s judgment – and empower women, putting women’s futures into their own hands.

[Applause]

“No matter what happens – whatever happens with the Court and personhood amendment – we must remember that these battles will not be the end of the fight.  They are just another step in a long struggle that began with Margaret Sanger and continues with Planned Parenthood today – a struggle we will win as long as we stand ‘stronger together.’

[Applause]

“Whether the fight is to respect the work of Planned Parenthood globally and domestically, or opposing the attempt to shut down the government – imagine: they were going to shut down government rather than fund Planned Parenthood.

[Laughter]

“Planned Parenthood support among the American people has always been non-partisan and strong.

[Applause]

“So too must it be in Congress.  And so that national support made that issue just too hot for those who wanted to shut down government so they didn’t have to fund planned parenthood – made it too hot to handle.  Congratulations on that big victory for Planned Parenthood.

[Applause]

“One more thing:  I want thank all of you for your leadership in educating the American people on women’s health.  And thank you for the nationwide effort that you undertook to educate Americans on the Affordable Care Act.  Thank you.

[Applause]

“The stories of your outreach are legion, reaching families across the country, contacting a quarter-million people; helping tens of thousands sign up in the Marketplaces. The stories are a reminder of the people – the individuals, the families, the patients, the women – at the heart of this law: the people beyond the numbers and the headlines; the people the law is helping, and whose lives the law is changing.  We’re very proud of that six million.  Thank you, President Barack Obama for your great leadership.

[Applause]

“And thank you, David Simas, for helping to message all of that to make that number possible – David Simas, the President’s assistant on this issue.

“Working together, stronger together.  Consider the stories from my state of California.  I’m not going to tell the whole story, but just describe.  In Los Angeles, where Planned Parenthood helped a woman who hadn’t been to a doctor in years sign up for coverage.  In Sacramento, where a community college student who was working part time and all the rest, with Planned Parenthood’s help, signed up for Medi-Cal for the first time.  In the Coachella Valley…

[Applause]

“…Alright for Coachella Valley – who knew?  Coachella Valley, where a 45-year-old cancer survivor learned that she qualified for medical coverage with no premiums.

“Planned Parenthood’s work and success ensure that women know what the Affordable Care Act means for them.  I’m not going to repeat all of it because Cecile very clearly spelled out what a difference it has made.  But I’ll just repeat one line:  no longer will being a woman be a pre-existing medical condition.

[Applause]

“Planned Parenthood knows that this landmark law is not just about health care for America, but also about the good health of Americans; that good health begins with preventive care – and includes Planned Parenthood’s firm belief that every woman should have the right to determine the size and timing of her family.  And one more thing:  I said six million and that’s in the Exchanges.  There’s over six million in Medicaid.  And thank you, Planned Parenthood, for fighting so hard for the expansion of Medicaid across the country.  Thank you, Cecile, for that.

[Applause]

“The aim of smart public policy in our country is to advocate for opportunity and freedom and justice – the opportunity to lead healthy lives and the freedom of Americans to make their own choices.  Planned Parenthood has stood firm in pursuit of those principles from day one.  And no matter what the critics have said, no matter how many times opponents have tried to defund Planned Parenthood, you have not left the battlefield.  You have never accepted and will always challenge.  You stood ‘stronger together.’

“Thank you for being a powerful, persistent, effective voice on the side of women’s health.  Thank you for your leadership, your advocacy, your determination, and your success.  Any person in America who respects the judgment of women owes Planned Parenthood a great debt of gratitude.

“So thank you for your patriotism – to expand freedom in America.  And thank you for the Margaret Sanger Award.  And thank you, Cecile Richards.”

[Applause]

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