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PPV!RI promises a fight for the basic human right for all people to control their own bodies.

Statement by Amanda Skinner, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Votes! Rhode Island

(Providence, RI) — “Today, the Democratic leadership of the Rhode Island Senate failed women and failed their constituents. They sided with the blatant lies of President Trump and allowed the Reproductive Health Care Act (S 152A) to be defeated in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Four Democrats on the committee stood against women’s equality and reproductive freedom by voting to defeat legislation that would preserve the right to safe, legal abortion in Rhode Island no matter what happens at the federal level. The Democratic leadership in the Senate refused to use their considerable power to ensure the Reproductive Health Care Act was brought to the floor for a vote by the full Senate. The leadership shown by Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and his team represents a true commitment to respecting the people of Rhode Island by ensuring a floor vote on the House companion bill (H 5125A). We hope the Senate leadership similarly acts in the interest of those they serve by moving the RHCA to the floor. We will be back every day this session and every day next session to fight for the basic right to control one’s own future and decisions when to grow or start a family. The voters of Rhode Island will remember today when they vote in 2020 elections.

“Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey, President Dominick Ruggerio and Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin could have ensured the RHCA makes it to the Senate floor. Today, they could have joined the Committee and voted passage, allowing the Rhode Island public the chance to know where every member of the Senate stands on this fundamental civil right. They did not. Instead, they stood aside and let the forces of manipulation and deceit derail the forward progress of our state. These three Democrats lead a Senate in which 33 of 38 members (87%) are Democrats, in a state where every statewide officer is a Democrat who openly supports the RHCA, and our US Senators have been repeatedly re-elected while standing up for reproductive freedom. Mr. McCaffrey, Mr. Ruggerio and Ms. Goodwin have abdicated their responsibilities as leaders of a party whose state platform reads, ‘We view a woman's right to choose as a private matter, which is a fundamental liberty protected by the United States Constitution. Therefore, we will fight to protect a woman’s right and a family’s right to seek medical care wherever they wish, regardless of ability to pay, and we support laws designed to protect that right.’

“Thank you to Chairwoman Lynch Prata and Senators Coyne, Euer, and McKenney for voting to protect the right to safe, legal abortion in Rhode Island. And thank you to the sponsors of the Reproductive Health Care Act for continuing the lead the fight for reproductive freedom.

“Elections matter – we are closer than ever before to protecting safe, legal abortion in Rhode Island. There is a clear mandate to pass the Reproductive Health Care Act.

“On October 14, polling showed 71% of Rhode Islanders support a law to protect safe, legal abortion. In the 2018 elections, Rhode Island elected the most Planned Parenthood-endorsed candidates in history, including 12 new voices for reproductive freedom.

“Since 2016, 75% of newly elected members of the Rhode Island General Assembly are open supporters of reproductive freedom, including the right to safe, legal abortion. All five statewide General Officers support passing a law to put the protection of Roe v. Wade into Rhode Island statute, and we thank Gov. Raimondo for calling on the Assembly to act this year in her 2019 State of the State address. There are now more than enough votes in the General Assembly to pass the Reproductive Health Care Act. The only thing holding it up is a Senate leadership unwilling to stand up for the ideals of their own party—this is not acceptable.

“President Trump has doubled-down on his attacks on women’s health care, using blatant lies to manipulate emotions. Many states have passed laws aimed at eliminating access to abortion. Just last week, the Republican Governor of Georgia signed a bill banning abortion as early as six weeks. There is a cruel, coordinated effort for states to pass laws that will go to Trump’s Supreme Court and provide the opportunity to reverse four decades of precedent protecting the fundamental right to abortion. Rhode Island had the chance to stand up and to set an example by protecting a person’s right to control their own body and their own future and instead the Senate leadership cowed to anti-abortion extremists and their vile rhetoric.

“Planned Parenthood has been here for over 100 years, fighting to protect access to reproductive health care and providing health care. Let’s be clear: abortion is health care, reproductive care is health care, and health care is a human right. 

“On behalf of our 9,000 Rhode Island patients, our dedicated staff of care givers, and our thousands of activists, supporters and donors, we call on the leadership to find a way to bring the RHCA before the full Senate without amendments and without delay.”