Rhode Island voters once again demonstrated strong support for reproductive freedom, including safe, legal abortion, by electing both local and statewide candidates who will fight the fundamental freedom of bodily autonomy.
“These results show that Rhode Island voters support candidates who are proud champions of reproductive freedom. All five statewide General Officers support passing a law to put the protection of Roe v Wade into Rhode Island statute,” said Amanda Skinner, PPV!RI PAC member and CEO of Planned Parenthood Votes! Rhode Island (PPV! RI). “Governor Raimondo and a majority of House and Senate members are committed to passing the Reproductive Health Care Act and protecting the reproductive freedom of Rhode Islanders, including access to safe, legal abortion, from the attacks by President [Donald] Trump and his allies in Congress.”
Thanks to the hard work and endless energy of many amazing candidates, along with Planned Parenthood activists and donors, we elected 44 PPV!RI PAC-endorsed champions of reproductive freedom to the Rhode Island General Assembly – by far the most in our history (31 in House and 13 in Senate). In addition to the 32 incumbents who won re-election, we have 12 new voices at the State House for reproductive rights. The number of women in the Rhode Island General Assembly grew as well, to a record 42, including 16 in the Senate and 26 in the House. These results are based on unofficial results.
PPV!RI PAC-endorsed Governor Gina Raimondo reiterated her support for the Reproductive Health Care Act, saying, “I’ve worked hard to ensure that nearly every Rhode Islander has health coverage, and I’ve stood up with advocates in support of the Reproductive Health Care Act. Planned Parenthood and women across Rhode Island played an important part in tonight’s victory. The people of Rhode Island have spoken and said clearly, ‘keep bringing the change that Rhode Island needs.’”
“There is a clear mandate to pass the Reproductive Health Care Act,” said Craig O’Connor, Chair of PPV!RI PAC. “On October 14, polling showed 71 percent of Rhode Islanders support a law to protect safe, legal abortion. Tonight, Rhode Island voters confirmed that support. There are now more than enough votes in the General Assembly to pass the Reproductive Health Care Act, and we expect House and Senate leadership to hold a vote on this critical legislation in 2019.”
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“In 2016, voters chose nine new champions of reproductive freedom for the General Assembly. In the two special elections for State Senate since then, the winners were both women who ran as proud, pro-choice candidates and beat opponents who oppose reproductive freedom,” said Doree Goodman, Chair of Planned Parenthood Votes! Rhode Island. “We look forward to the 2019 General Assembly session and working with our allies on expanding access to reproductive health care, including safe, legal abortion, family planning services and comprehensive sexual health education.”
“In 2019, there will be more women in the General Assembly than ever before,” said Senator-elect Bridget Valverde, a PPV!RI PAC-endorsed Democrat who won her first term as state Senator from District 35 (East Greenwich, North Kingstown, South Kingstown, Narragansett). “We will lead the fight to pass the Reproductive Health Care Act to protect reproductive freedom, to end workplace sexual harassment, to raise the minimum wage and ensure equal pay. I am proud to have earned the endorsement of Planned Parenthood Votes! Rhode Island PAC.”
“Planned Parenthood, our patients, staff and thousands of Rhode Island activists and donors are especially excited to see so many women step up to run – and win,” added Skinner. “We need the strong leadership of Governor Raimondo and our endorsed candidates. For the last two years, the four Democrats who control the Rhode Island General Assembly, all men, have refused to protect reproductive freedom, including access to safe, legal abortion. In 2019, we call on the Assembly to listen to the voice of the people and pass the Reproductive Health Care Act.”
The need to act in Rhode Island is clear. NARAL Pro-Choice America gave Rhode Island an F rating in 2016 – the same grade as Texas, South Carolina and Oklahoma. The Rhode Island state constitution says, in its section on equal protection and due process, that “Nothing in this section shall be construed to grant or secure any right relating to abortion or the funding thereof.”
The Trump Administration, and its allies in Congress, have waged an assault on reproductive freedom for years. Their efforts include attempts to defund Planned Parenthood by stripping away protections for contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act; instituting a domestic “gag rule” on Title X, the nation’s program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care, and installing Brett Kavanaugh on the United States Supreme Court, creating the frightening possibility of Supreme Court rulings that will narrow or overturn Roe v Wade.
The Trump Administration has attacked not only reproductive rights but is a threat to civil rights for people of color, immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community and more.
“Today, Rhode Island voters made their support for reproductive freedom clear. We fully expect the Rhode Island General Assembly to respect the voters of this state and pass the Reproductive Health Care Act. We are excited about these new pro-women’s health candidates who will be vocal leaders in the General Assembly this year and work to improve the NARAL score,” O’Connor said. “We are confident these champions of reproductive freedom will work to preserve and expand access to full reproductive health care services for the people of Rhode Island.”
To view a full list of endorsed candidates who won their race and for more information, visit Planned Parenthood Votes! Rhode Island.
[From a press release]