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'We Believe That a Woman Has a Right To Choose': Pelosi, Harris, Klobuchar Rally California Women

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Presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris before she addressed the women's caucus of the California Democratic Party on Saturday, June 1, 2019. (Scott Shafer/KQED)

California Democratic women gave House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris and San Francisco Mayor London Breed a warm, hometown welcome Saturday morning as the state party kicked off its convention in San Francisco.

The high profile politicians were among a number of women who addressed a packed, boisterous room of hundreds for the Women's Caucus meeting, where Caucus Chair Christine Pelosi — the speaker's daughter — made women's reproductive health the theme.

Speakers railed against recent abortion bans and restrictions passed in red states across the nation, including a lawyer for Planned Parenthood, which is challenging several of those laws in court.

"What they are saying to women is, 'We are going to control not only your bodies, we are going to control what you believe'," Pelosi told the crowd, which erupted in applause and cheers when she entered the room. "We believe that a woman has a right to choose. We believe that a woman has a right to make those determinations and they cannot foist their beliefs on us — no politicians, no anybody."

Pelsoi questioned why Republicans pushing the bans aren't more concerned with family planning.


"These are desperate people," she said. "I don't know why they have the insecurities they do about women advancing, but that's their problem and we're not going to have it affect our lives."

Countdown to 2020

Harris also thrilled the Democratic crowd, opening up her remarks with an appeal to the room, asking them to support her candidacy and launching into a speech about issues near and dear to the group: women's reproductive rights and equal pay.

"Women's rights are under attack. We've seen it in Alabama, we're seeing in Georgia and Missouri," Harris said. "And it fundamentally is an issue that is about people who are supposed to be leaders who do not understand the value of women's brains and women's agency and women's strength and women's ability to make their own decisions about their own bodies. And we here to tell them we will not take it and we will fight."

Harris touted her equal pay proposal, which calls for large corporate employers to prove that they are paying men and women equally, and if they aren't, face fines commensurate with the pay differential.

"Women are paid nationally 80 cents on the dollar. Black women, 61 cents. Native American women, 58 cents. Latinas, 53 cents and you know what? I'm done having this conversation because it's not a debatable point," Harris told the crowd.

Also speaking was Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, another presidential contender and one of 14 swarming the convention this weekend to make their appeal to the party faithful. She called Harris a "friend," and — in a nod to the crowd — exclaimed, "May the best woman win!"

After praising Pelosi, Klobuchar immediately pivoted to attacking President Trump.

"If you guys don't think a woman can beat Donald Trump, just look at Nancy Pelosi," Klobuchar said. "We have this guy in the White House who is trying to pull us back. He is behind all of this."

She said Americans do not support the recent harsh anti-abortion laws -- and that Democrats need to take back the White House to protect reproductive rights.

"People do not want to put their doctors in prison, and the vast majority of Americans, 73 percent of Americans are with us. They do not want to overturn Roe v. Wade," she said.

Pelsoi also tied the abortion debate to the 2020 election.

"We have to win big in the next election — hold the House, hopefully win the Senate, and elect a Democratic president of the United States, a proudly pro-choice president," she said.

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