In remarks to a packed room of supporters, Vice President Kamala Harris thanked them for upholding what she called the nation’s highest and most important ideal: freedom.
“In America, freedom is not to be given, not to be bestowed, but it is ours by right,” Harris said. “And that includes the freedom to make decisions about one’s own body, and not have the government telling people what to do.”
In the third stop for her “Fight for Reproductive Freedoms” tour, Harris came to Savannah with prepared remarks on abortion access. Georgia law, which went into effect after Roe v. Wade was overturned in June 2022, bans abortion after six weeks.
Joan Wade, a resident of Savannah has been going to marches, protests and speeches for women’s collective rights and health since 1970s.
“My No. 1 concern is that the government is taking control of a women’s body, and they’ve got no business doing that,” Wade said. “It seems to me that the Republicans are all against regulation, unless its of our bodies. The thing that upsets me the most is that they don’t have the medical knowledge to know what they’re talking about.”
During her less than half-hour speech at the Savannah Civic Center, Harris mentioned Georgia’s restrictive ban after six weeks is before many women even know they’re pregnant. She emphasized that lawmakers “don’t even know, or care how a woman’s body works.”
According to a study done by Emory University, Georgia’s maternal mortality rate is among the worst in the country, with 33.9 deaths per 100,000 live births. In Georgia, Black women are three to four times more likely to die in connection to childbirth than any other women.
Harris was briefly interrupted by a pro-Palestine demonstrator, who spoke about miscarriages in Gaza due to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, which started on Oct. 7, taking the lives of over 1,400 Israelis and 26,000 Palestinians. Harris’ supporters and staff chanted her name to drown out the protestor, who was led away.
“We know in a healthy democracy, we value the freedom of all people to be heard, but right now we are talking about a different issue,” Harris said. “And that is the issue of what has happened to the women and people of America as a result of the Dobbs decision.”
Before she concluded her speech, Harris emphasized that if Congress tries to pass a national abortion ban, President Joe Biden will veto it.
Prior to Harris’s speech, event speakers included Deputy for the Office of Civil Rights for the Department of Health and Human Services Melanie Fontes-Rainer, Deputy Administrator for Health Resources for the Health Resources and Services Administration at the Department of Health and Human Services Jordan Grossman and Mayor Van Johnson.
“We are here today because President Biden and Vice President Harris realize and recognize that a woman has the right to decide, what happens to her body,” said Johnson. “Not city hall, not the federal government, not the state government. You can’t have it both ways, you can’t tell people you won’t regulate guns, but you want to regulate our bodies.
After her speech, Harris stopped by the Diaspora Marketplace, which offers African art, clothing and goods, for about 20 minutes.
“After I got over the shock of it, and I found out why she wanted to come here I felt honored to be one of the ones who have a chance to speak with her,” said Richard Shinhoster, the owner of Diaspora Marketplace. “We talked a little bit about some of the administration’s efforts to support the people of Ghana and West Africa, and we talked about small businesses in Savannah. They’re very interested in supporting them.”
Shinhoster said his experience meeting and speaking with the vice president ranks second, behind opening his businesses in 2001.
The livestream of the speech can be found here or viewed below.
Read the original article at the Savannah Morning News website.