The following is a transcript of a speech, as prepared for delivery, by Nancy Keenan, President of the National Abortion Rights Action League Pro-Choice America (NARAL) at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, September 4, 2012.
On behalf of NARAL Pro-Choice America—and our one million member activists—I am honored to be here to talk to you about what's at stake for women in 2012. I am proud to say that the Democratic Party believes that women have the right to choose a safe, legal abortion with dignity and privacy.
We believe in funding family planning because it helps to prevent unintended pregnancy. We believe that a woman considering an abortion should not be forced to have an ultrasound against her will. We believe that rape is rape. We believe that a woman should make health care decisions with her family, her doctor, and her God. And we believe that there's no place in that room for politicians—especially politicians who don't know how women's bodies work.
We are proud to have a president who stands with women; a president who signed into law one of the greatest advancements for women's health in a generation; a president who believes in a woman's right to make her own decisions. I know this president. And I can tell you that he cares deeply about the next generation of young women in this country—his daughters, and everyone's daughters. President Obama had the courage to stand with Sandra Fluke. Without hesitation, he defended her right to tell her story. Mitt Romney did not.
That moment illustrates what is at stake in this election. Put simply, women in America cannot trust Mitt Romney. We cannot trust Mitt Romney to protect our health. He would repeal Obamacare, taking away our access to better maternity and prenatal care, and the law's near universal coverage of birth control. And we cannot trust Mitt Romney to respect our rights.
He would overturn Roe v. Wade and sign into law a wave of outrageous restrictions on a woman's ability to make decisions about her pregnancy. Mitt Romney would take away our power to make decisions about our lives and our futures. But there's one decision he cannot take away—and that's the one women will make on November 6.
I want to leave you with a story tonight—one that serves as my inspiration. I grew up in Anaconda, Montana—a town in the heart of the state's mining country. My dad worked at the copper smelter, a tough and dangerous place where copper would boil at 1,200 degrees. He had a brass tag, and on it was his number: 720. Workers like my dad would throw their number in a bucket as they arrived for their shift, and at the end of the day, they'd hang them on a pegboard so their buddies would know they'd made it out safely.
Every day, my dad threw his number in that bucket—and he did it for his family, for his co-workers, for his community, and for his country. He passed away when I was in my early 20s, before I had decided to run for public office. And I carried this brass tag with me during all of my campaigns in Montana. To me, that number symbolizes the value of hard work and opportunity—and the importance of sticking together.
We are ready to work hard, work together to re-elect President Barack Obama. We must do it because women deserve to make their own choices and determine the course of their lives. Don't assume that every voter knows what Barack Obama has done for the women in this country—and don't assume they know the truth about Mitt Romney. Tonight, I'm asking you to talk with your friends, neighbors, and relatives—even the ones you've never talked to about reproductive rights. That's how you can throw your number in the bucket, and stand with a president who has stood with us. Conversation by conversation, vote by vote, we will re-elect President Barack Obama!
I'll see you on the campaign trail.