Health Care

Rhode Island rallies in response to leaked Supreme Court abortion decision

“Our right to abortion is something that we fought for decades ago and ever since then they’ve been chipping away at it, little by little,” said activist Tammy Brown. “They’ve chipped away at our reproductive rights, they’ve chipped away at our voting rights, they’ve chipped away at our access to health care and we are here tonight to say, ‘We won’t stand for it.'”
Photo for Rhode Island rallies in response to leaked Supreme Court abortion decision

Published on May 4, 2022
By Steve Ahlquist

All over 600 people gathered on the south side steps of the Rhode Island State House on Tuesday evening in response to a leaked United States Supreme Court draft decision that indicates that Roe v. Wade, the decision that firmly established a person’s right to abortion, will be overturned in the coming months. Similar rallies took place across the country.

Organized by The Womxn Project, a group committed to “embodying the principles of reproductive justice,” the event featured projections on the outside of the State House, a series of speakers and a large black hot air balloon onto which messages were projected.

The roster of speakers, which included elected politicians and medical professionals who provide a full range of reproductive health care including abortion, was emceed by activist Tammy Brown.

“Our right to abortion is something that we fought for decades ago and ever since then they’ve been chipping away at it, little by little,” said Brown. “They’ve chipped away at our reproductive rights, they’ve chipped away at our voting rights, they’ve chipped away at our access to health care and we are here tonight to say, ‘We won’t stand for it.'”

Earlier in the day, reacting to the leaked decision, Governor Daniel McKee called on the Rhode Island General Assembly to pass the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act, though he neglected to put that coverage into the budget he submitted earlier in the year. Speaking at the rally, Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos echoed that call, and called for the expansion of postpartum medical coverage to a full year.

“I… want to call on state leaders, the General Assembly, the Speaker and Senate President, and also the Governor to work together to enact these two bills and also to amend our budget to extend this fundamental human right to the women in our state – especially our most vulnerable people,” said Lieutenant Governor Matos.

“I stand before you, in awe and grateful, for those who saw the writing on the wall and advocated for the Reproductive Privacy Act,” said Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, who is running for Governor of Rhode Island. “Many of them are standing right here and they deserve all of our appreciation…”

The Reproductive Privacy Act essentially codified the protections of Roe v. Wade into state law.

“In 2022 abortion is on the ballot in Rhode Island and across this country,” continued Secretary Gorbea.

“We are here tonight because for 50 years the far right in this country has been working to take health care decisions out of the hands of women and their doctors and put them in the hands of politicians,” said Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, who is running for the second Rhode Island congressional seat. “That is wrong…”

The Equality in Abortion Coverage Act (EACA) (H5787/S0267) seeks to provide for “abortion coverage in the Medicaid program and repeal[s] the abortion coverage exclusion for state employee insurance plans.” The bill is sponsored by Representative Liana Cassar (Democrat, District 66, Barrington, East Providence) and Senator Bridget Valverde (District 35, North Kingstown, Narragansett).

“Pay attention to who you’re voting for this year. Pay attention to the elections,” said Representative Cassar. “Ask any candidate you see… ‘Where do you stand on reproductive rights?'”

“I am proud to call myself an abortion provider,” said Dr. Megan Smith from Women and Infants Hospital. “I speak on behalf of my patients today – past present and future – as well as my friends, family and colleagues.

“The decision of the Supreme Court leaked yesterday… is an attack on the autonomy of every individual in this nation,” said Dr. Smith.

“If there was ever a time to take to the streets and channel the power of RGB, it is today,” said Bella Robinson, executive director of COYOTE, a sex worker rights and advocacy organization. “The policing of women’s bodies, whether abortion or sex work, is gender based violence. The choices that women make – to have an abortion or engage in sex work – are both rooted in poverty, especially for women of color, trans women and undocumented women.”

“We knew this was coming, we didn’t want it to get here and here we are and it’s still surprising, it’s still shocking it’s infuriating that we’re here,” said Representative Rebecca Kislak (Democrat, District 4, Providence). “This leaked opinion is a map for overturning opinions about rights that are really, really important to us. Where will the overturning of established precedent end?”

“I… know that abortion bans hurt people. Abortion bans hurt communities. They are dangerous and they are not okay,” said Dr. Ben Brown from Brown University and Women and Infants Hospital. “Friends, we are strong. We are going to fight back. We are going to do that together and I believe that we can do that. I believe that we can make abortion access a reality.”

“I’m mad as hell. I’m tired. We have been fighting for way yo long for something as simple as what? Healthcare,” said Jennifer Rourke, a board member at The Womxn Project. “I need every single one of you to show up in September and vote for people that are fighting to protect us. That are fighting to protect our children. That are fighting to make sure that we have access.”

“It’s too complicated and the process takes too long for women to have access to reproductive care, we don’t have the resources to fund comprehensive health care,” said Andira Ture, from the Party for Socialism and Liberation. “But somehow the complications and the processes magically go away when we need to spend money for another war…”

“I think one thing we can all agree on is this is some fucking bullshit,” said Senator Cynthia Mendes (Democrat, District 18, East Providence) who is also running for Lieutenant Governor. “On behalf of all the women – everyone – that has been marching for 50 fucking years, that has been asking for our rights for 50 years, on their behalf I want to tell every person that is wobbly, that has caved that has looked the other way and told us to wait one more day – I want to tell them one loud statement form all of us. This is some – “

“Bullshit!” yelled the crowd.

Here’s some video of the hot air balloon:

Did you enjoy this article?


More Health Care Coverage