The following is a transcript of a speech by Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette at the Democratic National Convention.
Friends and fellow delegates, my husband and I have raised two accomplished daughters who we taught what my parents and grandparents taught me and my three sisters. My sisters and I were encouraged to choose the direction of our lives.
We became a congresswoman, a stay-at-home mom, a filmmaker, and a journalist. And Lino and I taught our children that they could rise to even greater heights. They could become surgeons, CEOs, supreme court justices, secretary of state, and even president of the United States. We didn't teach our daughters that they were second-class citizens.
With proposal after proposal, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to make women second-class citizens again. We will not let that happen. As a fourth-generation Coloradoan, I believe that our western spirit is an inspiration for what makes America great. Westerners stand strong in our defense of individual rights and women's equality.
In 2013, Colorado will celebrate its 120th anniversary of granting women the right to vote—the first state in the nation to do so. The accomplishments we've achieved did not come easily. Many opposed the advance of women into new roles and responsibilities—they even opposed our right to vote. But, working together, we have established our rightful place in our American republic.
Even today, though, there are still many battles to be won. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would have us fighting to defend old gains all over again. More and more, in this economy, women are the family breadwinners. We are managing our family budgets, struggling to pay health care bills, and facing the challenge of saving for college. We feel it in our paychecks when we receive 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.
President Obama understands how unfair this is. That's why the first bill he signed as president was the Lilly Ledbetter Act to strengthen a woman's right to demand equal pay for doing the exact same job. But look what the Romney-Ryan ticket would do: cut Pell grants, which make college affordable; repeal the Affordable Care Act that finally prohibits discrimination by insurance companies when they charge women more than men for health insurance. The Romney-Ryan ticket promises to slash Planned Parenthood funding that helps women get affordable cancer screening and family planning services.
Romney and Ryan support the so-called "personhood amendment" that would ban many forms of birth control, would ban all abortions (even in cases of rape, incest, or to save a mother's life), ban in-vitro fertilization, which helps families have children of their own, and would ban embryonic stem cell research, which holds the promise to cure so many diseases.
But, although these restrictions on women's rights are all republican ideas, even in their platform, my friends across the aisle now try to change the subject. "It's the economy," they cry. And they are right. When they break the guarantee of Medicare, it will hurt women and families right in the pocketbook. When they allow insurance companies to deny coverage based on the pre-existing condition of being a woman, it hits women and families right in the pocketbook. When they take away the guarantee of coverage for mammograms and cervical cancer screenings in the Affordable Care Act, it will hurt women and families right in the pocketbook. When they deny women access to birth control so we can plan when to have children, it hits women and families right in the pocketbook.
Reproductive freedom means economic freedom. And that's what this debate is about. In short, the Romney-Ryan ticket would reverse more than a century of hard-fought progress for women.
Mr. Romney, Mr. Ryan, the women of America have a message for you. We're not going back. We're going forward. Forward with a president who understands and defends the rights and interests of American women. Forward with a president who believes in economic opportunity, equal pay for equal work. Forward with our president, Barack Obama!