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Rhode Island has created a political environment in which women are ignored



On Saturday the Rhode Island legislative session ended with no movement on legislation pertaining to equal pay, reproductive freedom, or sexual harassment.

Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v Becerra found that anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers do not need to fully disclose their purpose.

In reacting to the decision NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue said, “One vote made all the difference today, and it could also be the only thing between upholding Roe or outlawing legal abortion in America.”

Today we found out that “one vote,” Justice Anthony M Kennedy, widely seen as holding the center on the Supreme Court of the United States, is retiring on July 31st of this year.

But that’s not all. Yesterday former Representative John Carnevale filed to run for his old seat in District 13. Carnevale did not run in 2016 after he was kicked off the primary ballot for not living in the District—a transgression for which he is still facing three counts of perjury and one count of filing a false document.

Can we please ask a favor?

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However, that is not the main reason why RI NOW is concerned about Carnevale being in the State House. In October 2011 he was indicted on charges of first- and second-degree sexual assault and one count of assault with intent to commit sexual assault. But the charges were dropped in January 2012 after his accuser died suddenly.

How could a man like this even think it reasonable to run for elected office?

Because Rhode Island has created a political environment in which women are ignored. If legislators do not value the autonomy of women’s bodies, if they do not protect them in the workplace, it is no surprise that men believe they can treat women criminally, and still be considered democratic leaders.

Rhode Island, we can and must do better. The time is NOW to act on legislation, to speak out, and vote to protect women.

Hilary Levey Friedman is the President of Rhode Island NOW, an organization that takes action to bring women into full participation in all aspects of public and private life without experiencing barriers based on gender. We seek to create a world where all women and girls have access to comprehensive health care services, are free from violence in all forms, have achieved economic equality, have equal rights regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, and are free of racism, which diminishes us all. We realize that purpose in the State of Rhode Island as we successfully empower women, including ourselves, to be the difference we wish to see in the world.