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On the 49th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, abortion access is at risk in America – RI officials must act now

Statement from the Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Freedom:

The 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade – the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that protects the right to safe, legal abortion – is January 22, 2022. Despite nearly five decades of legal precedent and settled case law, our constitutional right to abortion has never been at greater risk. We are at a crisis point – by this summer, the Supreme Court could eliminate the right to abortion in our country.

The overturning of Roe means that 36 million women – nearly half the women of reproductive age in America – and more people who can become pregnant could lose access to abortion. Elected officials must act now to eliminate all bans on abortion, including here in Rhode Island. Today, state laws prohibit nearly 1 in 3 Rhode Islanders — people enrolled in Medicaid and state employees — from using their health insurance to cover abortion. Abortion bans are discriminatory and racist, reinforcing inequity and health care disparities in our state.

This is an issue of equity, fairness, and justice. Like all abortion bans, Rhode Island’s laws disproportionately impact Black and Latinx people, people with low incomes, people living in rural areas, and anyone shut out of the health care system. We know that cost is an incredible barrier to care, leaving abortion out of reach for more than 300,000 residents. We must act now and pass the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act (EACA) to eliminate Rhode Island abortion bans and add abortion coverage to our state’s Medicaid program. 

We asked Governor McKee to protect abortion access by including the EACA in his 2022 budget proposal – but he failed to act. Now, we call on the General Assembly to pass the EACA to advance reproductive freedom in our state. We thank bill sponsors Senator Bridget Valverde, Representative Liana Cassar, and our champions in the legislature who promise to fight for equitable abortion access for all Rhode Islanders. 

As we honor the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must continue to defend abortion access in our state and give everyone the freedom and power to make their own decisions about their bodies, their lives, and their futures.

Quote from Aniece Germain, Assistant Executive Director, Hope and Change for Haiti:

“Abortions are healthcare. Who cannot afford healthcare? It's poor people, particularly Black and Brown people. The movement against Roe v. Wade is a movement against poor people, against women of color. They are the most at risk right now. We need to fight more than ever to ensure free and safe abortion for any woman who needs it. It's personal and private business. Who are the people who benefit from free abortion, or abortion covered by healthcare? It's poor people, and people of color. People who stand against abortion are people who want to keep the status quo, people who want to take away our rights. If a Black woman can decide when to have a family or proceed with higher education, her situation will change and improve. Roe v. Wade is a guarantee we have, a guarantee to control our own bodies, without government or religion telling us what to do. Without Roe v. Wade, women are in danger, particularly poor women and women of color.”

Quote from Gretchen Raffa, Vice President, Public Policy, Advocacy, and Organizing, Planned Parenthood Votes! Rhode Island:

“Access to abortion shouldn’t depend on where you work, how much money you make, or your type of insurance coverage. Everyone deserves access to care without barriers or political roadblocks – this legislative session, Rhode Island legislators must show up for patients and fight for equitable access to abortion. We call on our champions to pass the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act to end Rhode Island’s unjust, harmful abortion bans and advance reproductive freedom for all people.”

Quote from Hannah Stern, Policy Associate, ACLU of Rhode Island:

"As the right to reproductive autonomy and privacy has become increasingly vulnerable on a national scale, celebration of the critical protections of Roe v. Wade is more important than ever. Though the right to abortion is protected for Rhode Islanders – since the passage of the Reproductive Privacy Act in 2019 – the anniversary of Roe reminds us that all rights must be unceasingly and vigilantly defended, and that the continued expansion of safe, affordable abortion access to all who need it must remain a priority for our state."

Quote from Rev. Eugene Dyszlewski, Co-Chair, RI Religious Coalition for Reproductive Freedom:

“As people of faith, we need to support women exercising their God-given agency.  This means we are required to acknowledge that women are fully capable of making decisions that affect their lives. This includes the vitally important decision of whether or not to have a child, or when to have a child and how many. The clergy experience of providing pastoral counsel to women and families demonstrates the spirituality inherent in the process of arriving at a personal conclusion about reproduction with medical consultation. Above all, uninvited government officials have no business imposing their personal strictures into the private lives of women and families.”

Quote from Beth Cronin MD, RI Section Chair, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:

“ACOG supports the availability of high-quality reproductive health services for all patients. It is crucial that we are able to practice evidence-based medicine without political interference, and that our patients are able to access all aspects of essential reproductive health care, including abortion. We are fortunate in Rhode Island that the Reproductive Privacy Act codified Roe into state law, but the work we must do now is to pass the EACA to ensure that ALL persons in the state can truly access abortion care through insurance law changes.”


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