Ep. 23 - Best of Bernie: Climate Threat | Crackdown in Kashmir | Killer Mike

Ep. 23 - Best of Bernie: Climate Threat | Crackdown in Kashmir | Killer Mike

Briahna Joy Gray: Welcome back to another Best of Bernie episode, in which we round up the best, funniest, most shocking moments on the campaign from the last two weeks. We've got Bernie trying to convince Whoopi to leave the Yang gang and feel the Bern. We've got Killer Mike chatting it up with Bernie about diabetes. We've got a marathon climate town hall, and as always, we hear from you, everyday Americans, without whom this movement would be nowhere.

This is Hear the Bern, a podcast about the people, ideas and politics that are driving the Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign, and the movement to secure a dignified life for everyone living in this country. My name is Briahna Joy Gray, and I'm coming to you from campaign headquarters in Washington, DC.

Now, in the first two presidential debates, the subject of climate change was covered for all of 15 minutes. Outraged by the lack of attention to this existential issue, protesters from environmental groups, including the Sunrise Movement, lobbied the Democratic National Committee for a climate debate. Not only did the DNC decline to host the debate, but they forbade Democratic candidates from attending any independently hosted debate on threat of being barred from the next sanctioned debate, a move which arguably doesn't make the party look like it has a good faith investment in averting climate change.

That's neither here nor there. Thankfully, this all-important issue did get coverage in the form of a seven-hour CNN climate town hall. Now, because the candidates had been forbidden from having a "debate", each candidate took the stage one after another, with the highest pulling candidates capturing primetime spots. Bernie Sanders, consistently polling second only to Biden, took the stage at 8:40, and he brought the prime-time punch.

Anderson Cooper: Would you guarantee to the American public tonight that the responsibility for $16.3 trillion, which is a massive amount of money, wouldn't end up on taxpayer shoulders?

Bernie Sanders: Well, it'll end up on some taxpayers' shoulders. If you are in the fossil fuel industry, you're going to be paying more in taxes, that's for sure. (laughter). Yeah. And I happen to believe in general that at a time when we have massive levels of income and wealth inequality where the richest three people in this country are more wealth than the bottom half of American society, where major profitable corporations like Amazon, who made over 10 billion of profit, they didn't pay a nickel in taxes. Am I going to guarantee Jeff Bezos he's not going to be paying more in taxes? No, I won't.

Richard: Senator, your climate plan is specific about how you will spend $16 trillion and I'm delighted that somebody is willing to spend that much. Can you be equally specific about where that money is coming from? For example, you say that you'll tax fossil fuel companies, but the essential idea behind addressing climate change is eliminating use of fossil fuels. How much money can you raise from companies whose income will be drastically reduced or eliminated? And where else will the money come from?

Bernie Sanders: If I could, Richard?

Richard: Yeah.

Bernie Sanders: Let, let me begin and, and predicating everything I'm going to say to you this evening. Donald Trump thinks that climate change is a hoax. I think Donald Trump is dangerously, dangerously wrong. Uh, I may be old fashioned, but I believe in science.

And Richard, as I'm sure you know, what the scientists have told us, climate change is real. It is caused by human activity. It is already causing devastating problems in this country and around the world. And most frighteningly, what they tell us, is if we don't get our act together and make massive changes away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy within the next 11 years, the damage done to our country and the rest of the world will be irreparable. So, Richard is quite right. We are proposing the largest, most comprehensive climate change program ever presented by any candidate in the history of the United States.

So, where do we get ... A- and let me, even before I tell you where we get the money, and I will do that. People say, “Well Bernie, you know, you're spending a lot of money. Is it realistic?” And my response to them is, “Is it realistic to not listen to the scientists and to create a situation where the planet that our children and grandchildren and future generations will be living in will be increasingly uninhabitable and unhealthy? Is that realistic?”

So, I think we have a moral responsibility to act and act boldly. And to do that, yes, it is going to be expensive. This is how we get the money for a start. Insanely but honestly, what goes on right now is we are giving the fossil fuel industry approximately $400 billion every single year in subsidies and tax breaks. Obviously, we end that. And we are paying for this over a 15-year period, by the way. Second of all, uh, we believe that the federal government is the best way to move aggressively to produce sustainable energy like wind and solar. We will expand concepts, public power concepts like the TVA right now, to produce wind and solar and actually make a profit on that as we sell it to electric companies all over the world. Thirdly, we are not going to have to spend money on, on the military, uh, defending oil interests around the world. We can cut military spending there as well.

Fourthly, fourthly, our program will create up to 20 million good paying jobs, uh, over the period of the 15 years. And when we do that, you're going to have a lot of taxpayers out there who'll be paying more in taxes. You'll have people who are not getting food stamps and so forth. So those are the basic ways that we pay for this program. But most importantly, we are dealing with what the scientists call an existential threat to this planet, and we must respond aggressively. We must listen to the scientists. That is what our plan does.

Briahna Joy Gray: As you recall from last week's episode, Bernie Sanders’ Green New Deal plan is the most ambitious, most serious plan out there. It commits 10 times more resources to the issue than Joe Biden's plan, for instance. And yet will still pay for itself over a 15-year period. For more details on that, listen to last week's episode.

Now, the climate town hall was incredibly useful as it became clear that not every candidate was serious about climate change. Many candidates like Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O'Rourke, Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg, and Julian Castro, for instance, refuse to commit to banning fracking. Now, here's why that matters. Fracking is the process of extracting natural gas from the earth by injecting chemical liquids at high pressure into fissures in the ground. The process causes earthquakes, pollutes our aquifers, which hold much of our clean water supply and can even result in flaming water literally shooting out of the taps of everyday Americans.

Fracking is undeniably terrible for our communities and for our planet, but many Democrats continue to support it. After all, it represents a massive resource for homegrown fuel, and the oil and gas industry is an important source of revenue in many key states like Pennsylvania. That's exactly why it's so important that Bernie's Green New Deal plan ensures a just transition. The men and women working in the fossil fuel industry aren't the enemy here, and they need to be transitioned to good paying, clean energy jobs and not be penalized in the course of the transition to green energy. That's why Bernie Sanders' plan talks about creating 20 million new green jobs.

But enough about policy. I know you guys want the sweet, sweet good stuff. Bernie's spicy moments. Here are two of my favorite clips from the climate town hall last week.

Bernie Sanders: We are, in my view, not in my view, in the view of the scientists who have studied this issue the most. We are fighting for the survival of the planet earth, our only planet. How is this not a major priority? It must be a major priority.

Anderson Cooper: Let, let me ask you, last month you tweeted, Donald Trump believes climate change is a hoax. Donald Trump is an idiot. (laughter). Do you feel-

Bernie Sanders: Did I say that? Well, yeah, I did. My wife thought it wasn't a good idea, but I said it.

Anderson Cooper: Well, let, let me ask you. There are obviously tens of millions of Americans who support Donald Trump and who believe him on climate change. Are they idiots?

Bernie Sanders: No. Look, what you got, Donald Trump is the only president of the United States that we have. And when you have a president who has access to all of the scientific information, who can make a phone call and bring every bloody scientist in the world into his office in a few days' notice, when you have a president of the United States who rejects and turns his back on that science, you know, maybe it was a harsh word. Uh, but he has called me worse. So yeah, I mean, I think it is just idiotic, if you like, that a president, uh, a president takes, uh, that h- has that type of approach toward climate change. And, and again, it is, forget the word idiot, it is so dangerous. It is dangerous. We are the most powerful country on earth. We should be leading the world to a global energy transition. And you have a president who thinks it's not real. That is idiotic.

Anderson Cooper: Senator Sanders, uh, just today, the Trump administration announced plans to overturn requirements on energy-saving light bulbs. Uh, it's obviously a move that could increase greenhouse gas emissions. Would you reinstate those requirements at all?

Bernie Sanders: Duh. (laughter). Look, you know, it is-

Speaker 5: I guess I should've asked, how fast would you reinstate those…

Bernie Sanders: It's fast. Look, one of the great things that's happening and, and which gives us some hope, is that there has been an explosion in technology in many, many areas, that if we have the political will to utilize that technology, uh, we can maybe, uh, save the planet. And by the way, let me just say this at this point before we get to light bulbs, and that is everybody in this room knows, I mean, this is a difficult issue. Nobody has a magical solution either, but this is not just an American issue. This is an issue that impacts the entire world.

So, what I would do, unlike President Trump, who has turned his back on this issue, in fact, made it significantly worse, uh, by, uh, expanding the use of fossil fuel. What I will do and I'm not here to tell you that I think it will happen like this, but I think it's worth a try.

That in this extraordinary moment of global crisis, I think we need a president, hopefully Bernie Sanders, (laughter) that reaches out to the world, to Russia and China and India, Pakistan, all the countries all over the world and say, “Guess what? Whether you like it or not, we are all in this together. And if you are concerned about the children in your country and future generations, we are going to have to work together.” And maybe just maybe, instead of spending a trillion and a half dollars every single year on weapons of destruction designed to kill each other, maybe we pool those resources and we work together against our common enemy, which is climate change.

Briahna Joy Gray: Note that Bernie's Green New Deal plan devotes $400 billion to helping less industrialized countries meet the carbon emission standards necessary to save the planet. On a truly global level, Bernie understands that it's not me, it's us.

Here's a familiar story. Bernie cites a number that indicates that something, in this case medical bankruptcy, is a major problem for Americans. Over half of American bankruptcies every year cite medical costs as a key contributor. Okay, so next, The Washington Post fact checker leaps into action, claiming that Bernie's number isn't quite accurate even though they quoted the same number in a Washington Post article that was presumably fact-checked. Meanwhile, everyday Americans who know firsthand what Bernie is talking about, can only wonder at the motivations of people more concerned with arguing which study's methodology is more accurate, than fixing an obvious and egregious problem. As Ryan Cooper put it in The Week, “Whichever study you prefer, we can be sure beyond question that medical debt is causing a great ocean of pointless misery, and Medicare for All would help a lot.” At a recent town hall, Bernie made the same point in slightly different terms.

Bernie Sanders: And here is something that again, when you take a deep breath and you take a step back and you think about it, you say, "This is really, really crazy shit". And that is, and that is, and that is, and I want you to think about it. Point that I'm trying to make is you don't hear Congress talking about it, you don't hear CBS and ABC talking about it, but you have got to, we have got to take a deep breath and ask ourselves this simple question, how can we allow not only 30,000 people a year to die, but 500,000 people a year to go bankrupt because they can't pay their medical bills?

Briahna Joy Gray: Now, Bernie was one of just two presidential candidates to appear at the Islamic Society of North America's conference along with Julian Castro. Bernie spoke to a packed crowd and received several standing ovations for speaking out against Trump's anti-Muslim bigotry and the domestic terrorism it inspires, as well as on behalf of the citizens of Kashmir and Western China, who are facing terrifying state repression.

Bernie Sanders: What disturbs me most about Trump is his very intentional and unprecedented demagogic effort to divide the American people up based on the color of our skin, our religion, our country of origin, or our sexual orientation. That is un-American. That is unacceptable. As a result, it is not surprising that we have seen in recent years a significant increase in hate crimes, white nationalism, and overt acts of racism. So, let me be as clear as I can be. As president of the United States, one of my major goals will be to forcefully combat this virulent ideology of racism and hatred. We must speak out when we have a president and an administration who believe, and I quote, that “Islam hates us". We must speak out at hate crimes and violence targeted at the Muslim community and call it what it is, domestic terrorism.

Unlike the current president, who has an affection for authoritarian regimes around the world, I will make the promotion of democracy and human rights a priority for the United States of America. Right now, as we speak, China is engaged in a program of mass internment against Muslims in Xinjiang province. My administration will work with our allies to let Beijing know that abuse of Muslim citizens or any other group of people will damage its international and economic standing. We will not stand by and allow that to happen.

I am also deeply concerned about the situation in Kashmir, where the Indian government has revoked Kashmiri autonomy, cracked down on dissent and instituted a communications blackout. The crackdown in the name of security is also denying the Kashmiri people access to medical care. Even many respected doctors in India have acknowledged that the Indian government-imposed restrictions on travel are threatening the lifesaving care that patients need. India's action is unacceptable. The communications blockade must be lifted immediately. And the United States government must speak out boldly in support of international humanitarian law and its support, and in support of an UN-backed peaceful resolution that respects the will of the Kashmiri people.

Briahna Joy Gray: Bernie called out the policy of endless war that the U.S. embarked on following the 9/11 attacks nearly 20 years ago at the cost of our reputation, trillions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of lives around the world, including both civilians and our troops.

Bernie Sanders: Since September 11, 2001, foreign policy elites in both the Republican and the Democratic party have advocated endless war and interventionism that have undermined the United States' moral authority, cost us thousands of lives, drained our treasury, and corroded our democracy. Today we all understand the strategic failures of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. That war led to the deaths, that war led to the deaths of over 4,000 brave American soldiers, as well as hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. And that is why I helped lead the opposition to that war.

Briahna Joy Gray: Rap artist, activist, and entrepreneur, Killer Mike, has been a supporter of Bernie's revolution since 2016. And last month he sat down with the Senator to talk wealth inequality, healthcare costs, and education.

Bernie Sanders: Today in America, this year in America, 30,000 people are going to die, D-I-E, disproportionately African American, Latino, poor people in general, because they don't have any healthcare at all. You ever talked to anybody who said, "You know, I can't afford to go to the doctor?"

Killer Mike: Absolutely, I have. I have two friends who have died, my high school friends, and I’m a youngling, who have died because of lack of healthcare. My people, I got a call from one of my friends saying, “Man, your boy Bernie might have something with that healthcare thing. I see you took for people over to Canada to buy it.” He said, “I gotta admit though, you know, my, both of my parents are diabetic,” and he's telling the truth about that.

Bernie Sanders: His parents are diabetic?

Killer Mike: His parents are diabetic. And the reason I say that is black people, like I'm in the gym every morning and I'm trying to get a bank shot like yours because I don't wanna get diabetes. I don't want to stifle myself, right? Black people are more disproportionately affected by diabetes than any other group. So when you say diabetes and talking about free healthcare, I want people who look like me on the other side of the camera to re- to, to recognize that that is a black issue, and if you don't have the ability to have healthcare, which isn't just treating it, healthcare is being able to go early enough to be pre-diagnosed. It's-

Bernie Sanders: Healthcare is having a lifestyle which prevents disease in the first place, which has to do with nutrition, has to do with decent housing, has to do by the way, with clean drinking water and so forth and so on.

Briahna Joy Gray: Killer Mike is right. Despite the mainstream media's insistence that black issues and Latinx issues and other minority issues should be siloed, concerns like a lack of insurance or high healthcare costs strike marginalized communities the hardest. 20% of black Americans over the age of 20 have diabetes, diagnosed or undiagnosed. So, when Bernie talks about insulin costs being 10 times as much here as they are in Canada, well, Killer Mike's on it. Medicare for All is a black issue too.

Credit where it's due. CNNs climate town hall was surely the most in-depth airing of the climate crisis that has ever appeared on cable news. And none too soon, with fires continuing to ravage the Amazon and hurricane Dorian devastating the Bahamas. Talking to Seth Meyers, Bernie praised CNNs decision to do what the DNC would not, and devote significant attention to the signature crisis of our time.

Seth Meyers: There was a climate change forum last night.

Bernie Sanders: Yep.

Seth Meyers: And we have another round of debates coming up. And I was wondering, uh, if you prefer a forum to a debate based on the fact that as far as getting your messaging out, it must be nice to have a longer chunk of time?

Bernie Sanders: Absolutely. The, the debate format is, is just weird. You know, you're asked complicated- (laughter), you're asked complicated questions and then you got 30 seconds to respond. "Uh, tell us what you're gonna do about the healthcare crisis. All right, time's up."(laughter). Uh, so the forum does give you an opportunity, uh, to, uh, you know, speak at some length, and CNN did a good job, I thought.

Seth Meyers: A lot of the other candidates have sort of come out, uh, for Medicare for All, but then have walked back the idea of eliminating private insurance altogether. Now, the elimination of private insurance altogether, that actually does not poll particularly well. Are you, uh, do you think that that is being misrepresented to people when they're asked that poll question?

Bernie Sanders: Yeah. Yeah, I do. I think if you say to people, we're gonna do away with all of your premiums, just talked to a guy today, “How much you are paying premiums?” “Oh, $1,000 a month.” That's $12,000 a year. “What's your deductible?" “$4,000.” Paying $16,000 before the insurance kicks it. Now, you can call it a premium, but if you call it an insurance tax, all right, that looks a little bit differently.

So, what we're gonna do on the Medicare for all, is end all out-of-pocket expenses or premiums, all copayments. You're gonna have freedom of choice with regard to the doctor and hospital you want to go to. And at the end of the day, the overwhelming majority of the American people will be paying less for healthcare, out of a general tax base than they do right now.

Look, at the end of the day, and this is the point, we are spending twice as much per person on healthcare as the Canadians or any other major country on earth. And yet we have 87 million people uninsured or underinsured. 30,000 Americans die each year because they don't get to a doctor on time.

We're getting ripped off by the drug companies who charge us the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, and they are not only greedy, they are corrupt. I went up to Canada last month with some people in the Midwest who are dealing with diabetes. We bought insulin. You know what the differential was? It was 1/10 of the price in Canada and that's because the drug companies engage in price fixing. They are ripping us off and under my administration that will stop. Believe me, that will stop.

Briahna Joy Gray: That morning in New York, Bernie also hit up the ladies of The View. Now, I happen to be a big fan of the show, because whether or not you always agree with the host, it's one of the few daily opportunities to hear people talk about the issues of the day and a bipartisan group of folks that seemed to genuinely get along, for the most part.

This week Whoopi Goldberg, got what was apparently her first exposure to The Bern. In a notable exchange, she asked Bernie what he thought of one of his own signature policies, seemingly unaware that the battle between the 99 and the 1% is the sine qua non of Bernie's political career. Well, let's take a listen.

Whoopi Goldberg: Andrew Yang was here and made perfect sense to me. Um, and I haven't heard really anybody else in the party, whatever party we're, we're talking about, uh, say, "Hey, do you realize that if Facebook and Amazon and, and all the other gigantic corporations paid any tax, we could find some relief for regular Americans? Do you agree with that?

Bernie Sanders: Sure. Of course, I do. I've been talking about that for years.

Whoopi Goldberg: Well, no, I haven't, see, I ... when Andrew came on and sort of broke it down, what he suggested, and I'm sure you know this 'cause you've been spending time with him, but his idea was, you know, if one of those companies gave, uh, every American a grant, people's lives will change. Why, what do you think of such an analogy?

Bernie Sanders: This is what I think.

Whoopi Goldberg: Okay.

Bernie Sanders: I, I think that right now when you have Donald Trump and his friends giving well over $1 trillion in tax breaks to the 1% and large profitable corporations, I think that's obscene.

Whoopi Goldberg: Right. But will you change that?

Bernie Sanders: Of course, I'll change it. (crosstalk) .

Whoopi Goldberg: How do I know this?

Bernie Sanders: I've been talking about it for 25 years.

Whoopi Goldberg: Well, you haven't. Not for me. Not like this. Yeah. It's a little different.

Bernie Sanders: What you got right now.

Whoopi Goldberg: Yeah.

Bernie Sanders: Whoopi, this is what you got. You got Amazon owned by the wealthiest guy in America.

Whoopi Goldberg: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Bernie Sanders: Made over $10 billion in profit last year. Do you know what they paid in federal income tax?

Whoopi Goldberg: Nothing.

Bernie Sanders: Not a penny.

Whoopi Goldberg: Yeah, I know.

Bernie Sanders: That's insane.

Whoopi Goldberg: I know. So what I'm asking you, is it your position that these corporations, all of these big corporations will now, if you are elected president, one of the things you're gonna make sure that they do is they pay their fair share and that will trickle to the American people?

Bernie Sanders: That's the very top of my agenda. Absolutely. Absolutely.

Speaker: Yes, (crosstalk) .

Whoopi Goldberg: I don't, you know, I, I, I don't really know because, you know, I've, I've watched you over the last several years and, and I've had lots of questions about what you want to do. So, I, I, I-

Speaker: Yang's also talking about giving every American money.

Bernie Sanders: All right. But if you, I'm talking about giving every American a job, which I think is, what I think is terribly important. We have an enormous amount of work to be done in this country in terms of climate change to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel. We're talking about creating up to 20 million good paying jobs.

Whoopi Goldberg: Yeah.

Bernie Sanders: We're talking about rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure.

Whoopi Goldberg: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bernie Sanders: We're talking about building the millions of units of affordable housing that this country desperately-

Whoopi Goldberg: But everybody does, everybody says that, Bernie. Everybody say- (crosstalk) .

Bernie Sanders: Well, well, well, in all due respect, I think the agenda that I am bringing forth is the most progressive agenda ever brought forth by any candidate, serious candidate running for president of the United States.

Briahna Joy Gray: I will always love Whoopi, for what should have been her Academy award-winning performance in the Color Purple, AKA the greatest film of all time. Don’t at me. What's really great about this exchange is that at the end of the day, more Americans, including Miss Goldberg, were exposed to Bernie's ideas, which as we know, don't always get the play they deserve on the mainstream news. Frankly, I kind of don't even blame Whoopi for not knowing. It just means we have to get her to start listening to Hear the Bern.

Now, when people speak up at Bernie's events, it's often to share problems: insecure housing, medical conditions for which they can't afford care, or what their reality of working two or three different precarious jobs is like, and that makes sense. After all, Bernie is running a campaign that speaks to those who are struggling.

Stephanie: Hello everyone. Welcome. Um, to start out, my name is Stephanie. Um, I'm a third-year med student here at DMU. Um, right here in town. Thank you. I'm here today because I've seen firsthand the discrepancies and injustices our current healthcare system encourages. And frankly, I refuse to work in the system that puts profits and bureaucracy over effective patient care and positive health outcomes.

I want to start off talking about a patient I saw when working as a medical scribe in the ER before I even began medical school. This patient was a woman in her early 30s. She looked disheveled and generally unwell. Upon questioning, we found out that she was homeless, and recently, um, was leaving St. Louis. She had no insurance. She was complaining of terrible pain with swallowing and getting sick all the time.

After examining her and running some lab tests, she was found to have AIDS. I thought to myself, how is it that in the United States of America, where HIV/AIDS is completely treatable with medications, this young woman likely is going to die from AIDS? All we could do is prescribe her antiretrovirals, control her pain, and discharge her in hopes that she will follow up somewhere for further care. But I knew that the moment the woman left the hospital that her chance of surviving was extremely slim. And if I had to say today, I don't think she's alive. Her face will forever be burned in the back of my mind.

This is just one of many similar scenarios where patients are left to fall through the cracks because they lack insurance or the resources to obtain the care they need when they need it. This is absolutely unacceptable to me. I went into medicine to care for human beings in their best and worst times. I want to give my future patients the best care possible regardless of their backgrounds, insurance policy or immigration status. I refuse to stand by and allow patients to die from preventable illnesses solely because of their inability to pay. I don't ever want to hear a patient tell me they declined getting cancer screenings because they were afraid they would not be able to pay, and now they have stage four cancer and I have to tell them that they have three months to live.

I refuse to argue over the phone with insurance companies in order to prescribe my patients the most effective medications or order the most appropriate diagnostic tests. I went to medical school to practice medicine, not to be a businesswoman. Thank you. Thank you.

Not to be a businesswoman stuck between my patient on one side and a profit-driven insurance company on the other. My prescription for this problem is Medicare for All. We need this not just for the sake of my future patients and their health, but for the sake of healthcare providers across this country. We need a fair and just system that recognizes healthcare as a human right and restores dignity and respect to the thousands of healthcare workers that have trained years in order to do one thing, care for their patients and save lives.

I am so thankful we have a presidential candidate like Senator Sanders, inspiring us and leading the fight for Medicare for all. As he stated in 1993 on the Senate floor in quotes, “It is time that the American people stand up and say, healthcare is a right of all people. Let's control healthcare costs. Let's do what the rest of the industrialized world does. Let us pass a single payer national healthcare system.”

I almost didn't pursue medicine because of my fear of being unhappy working in our current system, but instead of quitting, I chose to fight. And you should too. Thank you very much.

Corinna Chavez: This is my first time telling this story, so here you go. (laughs). So, my name is Corinna Chavez, and I'm a Chicana feminist that was born and raised in Perry, Iowa. And I moved to Des Moines in 2015. I graduated from Iowa State, work in digital marketing and currently serve as co-president of the board of directors for a nonprofit, Alexito. I'm here today to share my story with you all. I believe that it's important to share our stories, to grow in understanding of one another, embrace our shared experience and increase empathy and love in our society. At the age of 14 I was dating an emotionally abusive person with a drug addiction. I have very Catholic parents that didn't believe in birth control, and I was told stories that my family members were infertile because they took birth control for too many years. This made me afraid to take any. These beliefs and teachings resulted in my pregnancy. My family would threaten to kick me out if I ever got pregnant, and at the time I had nowhere to go.

Adding to the stress my family was hardly able to survive and I didn't feel ready to have a child. I believe that children need to have healthy families with financial support and I wouldn't be able to provide that working as a Hy-Vee bagger with a partner addicted to meth. I told a couple of friends about my pregnancy and they helped me schedule an appointment at Planned Parenthood. I was nervous to go, so they went with me. At the time, I asked what my options were for these, or I asked what my options were for not having the baby, and the two were adoption or abortion. I shared these options with my partner, and they threatened to take the baby from me if I put it up for adoption. I decided to have an abortion.

Today, it has been 12 years since my abortion and the person that was my partner at the time has unfortunately been in and out of rehab, prison, and are considered mentally unstable due to their severe drug illness. Because I had the choice for myself and others didn't make it for me, I was able to take control of my future. Too many people have that choice taken away from them. I don't know what I would have done if abortion wasn't legalized at the time. I'm sure I would have lost my life or risked it in order to find a way out of my situation. I believe all aspects of reproductive justice are important. Abortion should be protected as a right, and people who can get pregnant should have the ability to decide for themselves. Making a decision about your reproductive health doesn't need to be a traumatic life experience.

What is freedom without choice? We have to legalize abortion at the federal level and dismantle the existing systems of oppression such as the patriarchy and white supremacy. I believe that Bernie is the person that will best execute this. We have witnessed him in action fighting for the human rights of all people and not just those that look like him. I know he will make choices that are considerate of people of all genders, races, and identities. Bernie has been fighting for reproductive justice since the '70s and he will continue the fight in the White House. One thing I would like to leave you all with today is this. We need to look in the mirror and realize that change starts with us. We must evaluate the ways we individually perpetuate systemic oppression and be bold enough to break the cycle. Thank you.

Briahna Joy Gray: That's it for this week. Let us know what you think at [email protected] or send us a tweet with the hashtag #HeartheBern. I literally read all of them. If you haven't already, please take a moment to rate, review or like us on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, or wherever you're listening. As always, transcripts will be up soon. Till next time.