Rally to Defend Abortion Rights: Speech on behalf of Whole Washington, Seattle 10/8/22

Kelsey Breseman
4 min readOct 10, 2022

Hi, I’m Kelsey Breseman from Whole Washington. Whole Washington volunteers, can you please raise your hands? Everybody, please make sure to sign one of their petitions, because that bill we are working to get on the ballot will make abortions free for all residents of Washington State, along with all of our other healthcare needs. Marching is great; making policy change is even better. If we have to do it ourselves, we will.

Whole Washington has been fighting for universal healthcare since 2017. Just like Canada passed universal healthcare first in one province and then federally, we are working for single-payer healthcare through the states. We’re starting with Washington because Washington State has a strong ballot initiative, which means that we, the people, can pass legislation.

Whole Washington’s bill was developed in coalition across many groups. It will provide, free of charge, abortions, perinatal health, gender-affirming care, and much more. It’s also undergone economic analysis by various groups, which project a savings of $5–13b annually to provide care that’s free at the point of service to anyone who has lived in Washington State for 30 days or more.

I’m focusing on the reproductive justice aspects of our universal healthcare bill, but it covers everyone, and covers everything: dental, vision, mental health- if it’s part of you, it’s covered.

I want to thank you all for showing up today. We are here because we are angry. We are here because we have been betrayed. Most of all, we are here because we are doing something about it.

I think a lot of you remember the original women’s march. You might have shown up for public comments for Black Lives Matter two years ago. I’m guessing a lot of you vote for politicians with platforms you believe in. I do all of that, too, and it’s important, but we’ve still ended up here: people in power are taking away our basic rights, and it makes us feel powerless.

I want to tell you: marching, commenting, voting, those are important, but they still require somebody else to sit up and listen, and they are so frustrating. But here’s the thing. Here in Washington State, we have the right to pass legislation ourselves. At Whole Washington, that’s what we are doing, because we are tired of waiting for somebody else to tell us that we deserve basic human rights like healthcare.

By the way, our senator Patty Murray has told us she will not endorse Medicare for all. If you’d like to convince her otherwise, we’re having a rally on October 14th. Grab a flyer from me for details.

The way a ballot initiative works is, we write a bill, we file, and then we go out and collect signatures. When we get enough signatures, our bill gets on the ballot. When we, the people of Washington State, vote yes on that ballot, our bill becomes a law. No parliamentarian, no vetoes, no filibusters.

It’s that simple. All it requires is for a lot of people to show up for it. This is a power we all have. If you’re a Washington State voter, please sign. But if you’re not, you still have the power to go grab one of our petition boards, and collect signatures. You have that power, and if you live in this state, you would benefit, whether or not you’re a voter here.

We deserve justice. This march today is about abortion rights, but fundamentally, it’s about our right to have power over our own bodies. We shouldn’t be blocked from that right by politicians, by doctors, by finances, by anybody or anything. So I want to thank you for showing up with me to fight for that right, and to take the next step by joining our ballot initiative campaign.

Whole Washington is here to fight for your right to have a baby, or not, to take care of your body in a way that fits your values, not somebody else’s, to be physically well enough to do the things that are important to you. We’ve been fighting this fight for years. We will be here until we have the signatures, until we have the yes vote, until we can be confident that nobody is going to take it away again. Whole Washington will be here until we have won the healthcare justice we deserve — for, and with, all of you. Gunalcheesh.