"I couldn’t be prouder of the work each of you is doing"...
President Obama praised abortion-rights activists and marked the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, in a video shown on Tuesday night at the NARAL Pro-Choice America annual dinner in Washington, D.C. Stephanie Cutter, the President's former deputy campaign manager, delivered the keynote at the dinner at the Washington Hilton hotel, where the group also welcomed its new president, Ilyse Hogue.
"Tonight, we celebrate the historic Roe v. Wade decision handed down 40 years ago, but we also gather to recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that women should be able to make their own choices about their bodies and their health care, " President Obama said, according to a video transcript published in The Washington Post.
"I couldn’t be prouder of the work each of you is doing to make this world a fairer and more just place for all Americans," President Obama said. "And I look forward to continuing that work with you in the years ahead."
Access to abortion, contraceptive freedom, and the definition of "legitimate" rape were topics of intense controversy during the President's reelection race, and Cutter told the dinner guests that the GOP "misread their mandate after the 2010 elections."
"They thought that 2012 would mean an even better year for that extreme agenda...They nominated Senate candidates who didn’t understand that rape actually can cause pregnancy," she said.
Cutter also took aim in her remarks at GOP presidential challenger Mitt Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). She said that during the 2012 White House race, Obama campaign staffers had a joke about Romney that when he watched the TV show Mad Men, he thought he was watching the 11 o’clock news."
Last week, in response to the Obama administration being sued by religious and other groups over the contraceptive-coverage policy in the President's Affordable Care Act, the White House announced a proposed rule that would exempt religious nonprofit organizations from the requirement. It would also allow for funds to be protected so women would get the coverage, but the religious groups will not be paying for it. All the same, more lawsuits are expected.
The President also thanked NARAL's outgoing president, Nancy Keenan, calling her a "friend and counselor to me and my administration."
The full text of Obama’s video message to NARAL:
"Good evening, everybody. Tonight, we celebrate the historic Roe v. Wade decision handed down 40 years ago. But we also gather to recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that women should be able to make their own choices about their bodies and their health care. We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her right to reproductive freedom, because we know that we are better off as a nation when women are treated fairly and equally in every aspect in life, whether it’s the salary you earn or the health decisions you make. This is a country where the success of all of us depends on the empowerment of each of us, where all Americans should have the freedom and opportunity to reach their potential. And I know that’s what you’re fighting for every day."
"So, to everyone at NARAL Pro-Choice America, thank you for your tireless advocacy for the health and well-being of women and families. I’d especially like to thank your outgoing president, Nancy Keenan, who’s been a friend and counselor to me and my administration. And I welcome Ilyse Hogue, who we know will continue Nancy’s legacy of outstanding leadership of this organization. Finally, congratulations on your keynote speaker, Stephanie Cutter, an exceptional pick for pretty much any job, if I do say so myself."
“I couldn’t be prouder of the work each of you is doing to make this world a fairer and more just place for all Americans. And I look forward to continuing that work with you in the years ahead."
Statement by the President on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Jan. 22, 2013:
"On the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we reaffirm its historic commitment to protect the health and reproductive freedom of women across this country and stand by its guiding principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters, and women should be able to make their own choices about their bodies and their health care. Today and every day, my Administration continues our efforts to reduce unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and minimize the need for abortion. On this anniversary, we recommit ourselves to supporting women and families in the choices they make and redouble our efforts to promote safe and healthy communities."