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“We are outraged, and we are horrified,” says RI Coalition for Reproductive Freedom in response to Roe reversal

“It’s every bit as bad as you think it is and more,” said Lynette Labinger, ACLU of Rhode Island Cooperating Attorney. “Because remember, the right that we’re talking about is not a right to an abortion, but a right to make your own decisions.”
Photo for “We are outraged, and we are horrified,” says RI Coalition for Reproductive Freedom in response to Roe reversal

Published on June 24, 2022
By Steve Ahlquist

“When we led the fight to pass the Reproductive Privacy Act in 2019 and codify the protections of Roe v. Wade in Rhode Island state law, many argued this day would not come – yet, today, the United States Supreme Court has defied the will of the majority of people in our country by eliminating the federal constitutional right to abortion,” wrote the Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Freedom in a release shortly after the decision became official. “We are outraged, and we are horrified. The court has failed us all, taking away the fundamental power to control our bodies and giving it to politicians. Here in Rhode Island, although the right to abortion is protected, our state laws decide who can use their health insurance to cover abortion care – and who might be forced to pay out of pocket or carry a pregnancy to term against their will.

“Rhode Islanders deserve better. It is time for action: We demand the General Assembly reckon with unfinished business by passing the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act, ending Rhode Island abortion bans, and helping to ensure equitable abortion access for all. It is the right thing to do.”

See also: Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade: Local Reactions

The Coalition held a press conference outside the Federal Courthouse opposite Kennedy Plaza in Providence where reproductive rights advocates lamented the decision and promised to fight back.

“We are at a crisis moment for abortion access,” said Nicole Jellinek, Chair, of the Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Freedom. “With this decision, 26 states will either ban abortion entirely, immediately or in the near future. This means that nearly half of women of reproductive age will lose abortion access and with it, power over their bodies and their lives.”

“It’s every bit as bad as you think it is and more,” said Lynette Labinger, ACLU of Rhode Island Cooperating Attorney. “Because remember, the right that we’re talking about is not a right to an abortion, but a right to make your own decisions.”

“The Rhode Island Section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, representing OB/GYNs across our state, condemns the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which represents a direct attack on the patient-physician relationship and the practice of medicine,” said Beth Cronin, MD from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). “We are committed to mitigating the fallout of this decision. We will continue to serve our patients to the best of our ability while accommodating patients seeking care from outside our borders. We remain strongly dedicated to advocating for our patients, our colleagues, and our profession in the face of further unfounded and dangerous legislative interference. The work to ensure all Rhode Islanders have equal access to abortion care through passage of the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act must continue. The RI General Assembly needs to act and pass the EACA now!” 

“Restricting any access to reproductive health services, coverage and choices places particularly dangerous burdens on victims of domestic and sexual violence,” said Lucy Rios from the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “Survivors of domestic violence are at a significantly higher risk for unintended pregnancy because abusers will often sabotage or interfere with their partner’s birth control in an attempt to exercise control over their reproductive decisions. An unintended pregnancy allows an abusive partner to be connected to their victim for decades and further opportunities to re-victimize and attempt to control the survivor for years on end.” 

“The U.S. Supreme Court decision is grounded in religious beliefs. But a commitment to the freedom of conscience is deep in our country’s history,” said Aniece Germain, founder of Hope and Change for Haiti. “We are in great danger when we no longer can count on the U.S. Supreme Court to decide with impartiality and apply the rule of law. It is heartbreaking to witness that the U.S. Supreme Court justices have become religious loyalists who cannot follow legal precedents set by previous decisions. By overturning Roe v. Wade, the court denies women and pregnant people their constitutional right to safe and legal abortion. In Rhode Island, we have made some strides by protecting the right to abortion but having the legal right to abortion does not guarantee access. In the end the most vulnerable and marginalized will be shut out of access to abortion. That’s the reason we are calling on the General Assembly to pass the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act to guarantee that every person has equitable access to abortion.”

“The Rhode Island Religious Coalition for Reproductive Freedom is deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court decision concerning Roe v. Wade,” said the Reverend Eugene Dyszlewski, Chair of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Freedom. “This decision seems less about abortion and more about denying the moral agency of women. Rooted in Rhode Island’s very foundation is the belief of Roger Williams that conscience is an inalienable aspect of being human. Thus, constraining the free exercise of conscience is to violate God’s work and is an affront to human dignity. In Rhode Island, freedom of conscience is in our cultural DNA.”

“By overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court has now officially given politicians permission to control what we do with our bodies, deciding that we can no longer be trusted to determine the course for our own lives,” said Gretchen Raffa, from Planned Parenthood Votes! Rhode Island (PPV!RI). “This dangerous, chilling decision will have devastating consequences across the country, forcing people to travel hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles for care or remain pregnant against their will. Abortion bans are already a cruel reality for Rhode Islanders — state laws decide who can and can’t use their insurance to cover abortion, making essential care even harder to access. No politician should have the ability to control decisions about our reproductive health or eliminate our fundamental bodily autonomy. We hope this is a wake-up call for the General Assembly: we need to pass the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act now.”

Representative Liana Cassar was the House sponsor for the EACA

The Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Freedom (RICRF) protects and advances access to reproductive health care through advocacy and legislative action. Members include: American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island; American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, RI Chapter; Catholics for Choice; Hope and Change for Haiti; Humanists of Rhode Island; League of Women Voters, RI; Medical Students for Choice; National Council of Jewish Women, RI Action Team; Perinatal Quality Collaborative; Planned Parenthood of Southern New England; Reproductive Health Access Project, Rhode Island Chapter; Rhode Island Academy of Family Physicians; RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence; RI National Association of Social Workers; RI National Organization for Women; RI Religious Coalition for Reproductive Freedom; Rhode Island Working Families Party; Sojourner House; Women’s Fund of Rhode Island; Women’s Health and Education Fund.

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