Video and photos from the Abortion Justice March and Rally“Now is the time to show up for our communities,” said Dr Uwanaka. “Honestly, we need more than Roe v Wade. We need everyone to come together and stand together for such an important cause. This is not about politics. It is not about what you think or believe, it’s about women’s rights and women’s healthcare.”
Published on October 3, 2021
By Steve Ahlquist
Between Well over 500 women gathered near the Providence Place Mall and marched through downtown Providence before gathering across the street from Superior Court on South Main Street for a speaking program. Over 600 sister rallies and marches took place across the country, including one in North Kingstown and another on Block Island. The Providence rally was organized by Alexandra Healy, Lauren Lancellotta and Together For Abortion Justice with the help of The Womxn Project and others.
The rally was in reaction to a draconian, anti-woman Texas law that effectively prevents abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and allows anyone to sue a person who facilitates an abortion after six weeks. An extremely conservative Supreme Court is expected to take up the Texas law, and the possibility remains open that Roe v Wade may be overturned.
Here in Rhode Island, the General Assembly passed the Reproductive Privacy Act, basically codifying Roe v Wade into state law, but serious gaps in abortion coverage remain, especially in low-income BIPOC communities covered under Medicaid and state employees covered under the state’s various health plans.
Here’s all the video, starting with the march:
Dr Ogechukwu Uwanaka, MD, [Resident Physician Political Action Chair | Brown Minority Housestaff Association (BMHA) Obstetrics & Gynecology Brown University/Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island] acted as emcee for the event.
“Now is the time to show up for our communities,” said Dr Uwanaka. “Honestly, we need more than Roe v Wade. We need everyone to come together and stand together for such an important cause. This is not about politics. It is not about what you think or believe, it’s about women’s rights and women’s healthcare.”
“The Supreme Court is stacked with conservative anti-choice justices. Texas has just passed a draconian law. But in wide areas of the country, even before that, abortions have become difficult, if not impossible to obtain,” said Dr Barbara Roberts. “Doctors who perform abortions have been picketed, threatened and even murdered. Women who seek abortion must often run a gauntlet of rabid fetus fetishists screaming that they are killers who will burn in hell.”
“If we do not protect that right, more women are going to be hurt,” said Providence City Councilmember (Ward 3) and candidate for Mayor of Providence Nirva LaFortune. “Women will be going to back alleys or places they shouldn’t – just to make that decision.”
Representative Liana Cassar (Democrat, District 66, Barrington, East Providence) and Senator Bridget Valverde (District 35, North Kingstown, Narragansett) have introduced the Equality in Abortion Act at the Rhode Island General Assembly.
“The Equality n Abortion Act has two main goals,” said Representative Cassar. “It eliminates the bans on insurance coverage [for abortion] for people on Medicaid and people covered under the state’s medical insurance plans.”
Currently, around 100,000 Rhode Islanders, including our mist vulnerable populations and state employees, must pay for abortion coverage out of pocket. This is an undue financial hardship on women and families facing difficult decisions.
“We face a crucial moment when the struggle for reproductive justice must openly confront racism and poverty,” said Andira Ture, from the Party for Socialism and Liberation. “Although the struggle for abortion rights has often been presented and viewed as an issue for white women, manifestations of institutionalized racism and women’s oppression expands the need for a reproductive justice movement that meets the demands of working class Black women.”
“We need to start questioning them. They are questioning us, let’s question them,” said Bela Noka, who also performed the land acknowledgement. “Why are you so concerned with me? Why do you want to violate that place in me? Why do you want to strip me from my power? Your mother is a woman. Your sister is a woman. Your daughter is a woman. What about you hates women?”
“Margaret Sanger said, ‘No woman can ever be free until she can control her own fertility,'” said Mary Ann Sorentino, who helped found and run the first legal abortion clinic in Rhode Island. “Have that tattooed on wherever you have your tattoos.”[Shout out to Alexandra Healy for bailing UpriseRI out with some video we missed!]
“As a woman of color it is all too clear to me that there is no equity or dignity for women of color if we do not get to control our bodies and our futures,” said Janie Segui Rogriguez. “That absolutely demands that we stop all bans on abortions we most recently have seen in Texas, and policies like the one here in Rhode Island that takes away coverage for abortion from low-income people who use Medicaid.”
Stephanie Olarte delivered her entire speech in Spanish:
Amanda Sardi spoke movingly as a survivor of abuse.
“I wore a veiled and unsolicited A on my chest that would impair my mental health for years,” said Sardi. “My esteem was at war with misunderstanding from those who chose not to listen.”
“The future of abortion must be accessible, affordable and supported with love and compassion,” said Dr Uwanaka, wrapping up the event. “People should be able to get reproductive healthcare that meets their needs throughout their lives.”
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