Statement by The Womxn Project (TWP) on the start of the 2019 legislative session and the need to move a bill that would affirm the right to abortion in Rhode Island:
“As a new legislative session begins, lawmakers will come together to look at how they can take positive steps to address the very real challenges facing our state. With the mounting attacks on Roe v. Wade at the federal level, activists from across Rhode Island are making it clear that for us protecting the right to seek an abortion is a critical priority.
We are concerned that the leadership is out of touch with the needs and the views of Rhode Islanders. Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said he does not believe Roe is at risk in spite of the fact that we have seen literally thousands of restrictions introduced around the country in recent years with the express purpose of pushing care out of reach and we have two laws on the books in Rhode Island right now that create at times insurmountable obstacles based on age, income and insurance type.
Senate President Dominick Ruggiero stated he believes we should wait for the courts on this issue, but what that could mean is waiting until the right is taken away and women’s rights are denied before we take action. That is unacceptable. More than 70 percent of Rhode Islanders support passing legislation to affirm the right to abortion THIS YEAR and we are working hard to make that happen!
Access to safe, legal abortion care is not only a matter of health and safety, but also of respecting and the personal decisions and ensuring the religious liberty of every person in our state when it comes to critical matters around pregnancy and parenting. The United States Supreme Court made clear the right to seek abortion more than forty years ago, but ever since then countless attempts have been made to try to chip away at access and push care out of reach and it is only getting worse.
We believe it is time to draw the line and make it abundantly clear that in Rhode Island we protect every person’s ability to make their own decision about how to build their family, manage their health and plan their pregnancies.
We have made gains in expanding access to the services people need to care for themselves and their families, but we are falling short when it comes to abortion care. We need to make sure that not only is the right to abortion protected in state law, but that we also ensure that the right is a reality. An important first step is to enact a law THIS YEAR that protects the right to abortion Rhode Island. That means no matter what happens with the Supreme Court that in our state we will respect personal decision making. This is our chance to put the health needs of women ahead of any personal beliefs or political agendas.
There are many important issues that will come up for consideration, but let us be very clear that the passage of the Reproductive Health Care Act (RHCA) is a priority and that we will be at the state house and educating, organizing and mobilizing people across the state each and every day to pass this important bill in 2019. We have heard how important this legislation is to women in our state. We know that voters are with us. We are not going anywhere until this bill is on the governor’s desk and signed into law! This is not about politics. It is about our health and the ability to control our own futures.”
[From a press release]