Planned Parenthood inexplicably endorses seven candidates who helped scuttle the EACAPPV!RI PAC endorsed 69 House and Senate candidates, including the entire House leadership team that prevented the EACA from coming to the floor of the House in the last days of the session, despite the knowledge that Roe v. Wade was going to be overturned at any moment.
Published on July 20, 2022
By Steve Ahlquist
Yesterday the Planned Parenthood Votes! Rhode Island Political Action Committee (PPV!RI PAC) announced their first round of candidate endorsements for the 2022 General Assembly elections. “These 69 candidates,” said the organization in a press release, “will defend reproductive rights and work to expand access to sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion, for all Rhode Islanders.”
Amanda Skinner, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Votes! Rhode Island and a member of the Planned Parenthood Votes! Rhode Island PAC, said in a statement that, “Rhode Islanders deserve elected officials who will take bold, unapologetic action to protect and expand access to abortion. The status quo is no longer good enough – we need these champions in the General Assembly to pass policies, like the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act, to help ensure everyone can exercise the fundamental right to control their own body and determine their own future.”
The EACA was the most important piece of pro-choice legislation introduced in the General Assembly last year. Upon passage it would remove the exceptions in both state health insurance plans and Medicaid that prevent paying for abortion coverage.
However, PPV!RI PAC unexpectedly endorsed seven candidates who helped scuttle the passage of the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act.
PPV!RI PAC endorsed 69 House and Senate candidates, including the entire House leadership team, Speaker Joseph Shekarchi, Majority Leader Christopher Blazejewski, and Katherine Kazarian. This is the team that prevented the EACA from coming to the floor of the House in the last days of the session, despite the knowledge that Roe v. Wade was going to be overturned at any moment. In fact, the United States Supreme Court dropped their decision overturning Roe the morning after the last day of the Rhode Island General Assembly session.
Leadership ignored a letter from 22 of their legislative peers urging passage of the EACA, and when pressed, pretended they didn’t know about the letter.
Speaker Shekarchi appeared to not understand the issue the EACA was trying to address when he told Uprise RI that, “right now, everyone in Rhode Island has access to abortion care.”
As The Womxn Project has pointed out, “A right is not real if people can’t access or afford that right.”
Earlier in the session, when the EACA was brought before the House Finance Committee, Chair Marvin Abney and committee members John Edwards and Jean-Phillippe Barros all voted to hold the EACA for further study, effectively killing the bill and preventing the legislation from coming to the House floor for a vote. All three of these legislators were endorsed by PPV!RI PAC.
In the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dawn Euer, also endorsed by the PPV!RI PAC, voted to hold the EACA for further study, with the full knowledge that the bill would never be brought out of committee and voted on. Senator Euer voted with the rest of her committee members, most of whom are on record as anti-choice, to effectively kill the legislation.
The endorsements are doubly puzzling, at least in the cases of Representatives Shekarchi, Blazejewski and Barros, because there are progressive, pro-choice women candidates running against all three of these men.
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Jacqueline Anderson is running against Joseph Shekarchi in District 23. Savannah DaCruz is running against Christopher Blazejewski in District 2. Jennifer Stewart is running against Jean Phillippe Barros in District 59.
Planned Parenthood declined to answer our questions about the endorsements and instead sent the following statement in response:
“Planned Parenthood Votes! Rhode Island and the Planned Parenthood Votes! Rhode Island PAC work to defend reproductive rights and ensure equitable access to sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion, for Rhode Islanders who rely on Planned Parenthood. Endorsements hold our champions accountable to the will of the people and help ensure our bills ultimately get called for a vote.
“Building political power to protect Planned Parenthood patients is our purpose. In deciding to endorse candidates for the 2022 elections, PPV!RI PAC looked at many factors including the current political landscape in a post-Roe America and the candidates’ records on our issues. Organizations and leaders in the movement for reproductive freedom each have critical roles to play in the fight to keep Rhode Island moving forward.”