Group of male representatives speak out for reproductive freedom and choice
STATE HOUSE – In response to the Trump Administration’s persistent attack on women’s reproductive freedom, a group of male Rhode Island state representatives joined the growing chorus calling for passage of the Reproductive Health Care Act and legislation to protect access to contraception.
“We are proud cosponsors of the Reproductive Health Care Act,” said Rep. Jason Knight (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren). “We, as men, stand behind women and acknowledge that they should have complete control of their bodies and their own medical decisions. It is urgent for the Rhode Island General Assembly to act now.”
Representative Knight was joined by Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown), Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Dist. 18, Cranston), Rep. Aaron Regunberg (D-Dist. 4, Providence), Rep. Joseph S. Almeida (D-Dist. 12, Providence), Rep. Jeremiah T. O’Grady (D-Dist. 46, Lincoln, Pawtucket), Rep. David A. Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston), Rep. Michael A. Morin (D-Dist. 49, Woonsocket), Rep. Evan P. Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick), Rep. Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence) and Rep. Jean Philippe Barros (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket).
“This act is about more than simply removing unconstitutional laws from our books,” said Representative Regunberg. “This act declares, once and for all, that the choice to have or not have children belongs to the woman and that nobody can interfere with that choice.”
The Reproductive Health Care Act (2018-H 7340), introduced on Jan. 31 by Rep. Edith H. Ajello (D-Dist. 1, Providence), would conform Rhode Island law to the 1973 landmark Supreme Court ruling Roe vs. Wade and subsequent court decisions. Additionally, the legislation would repeal state abortion laws that courts have found unconstitutional in the years since Roe vs Wade.
“We believe that elected officials in Rhode Island must listen to the thousands of voices that are calling on us to act now to protect this fundamental individual right,” added Representative Barros. “We must preserve the freedoms women currently have before those rights are taken away. The Reproductive Health Care preserves the status quo; proactively protecting Rhode Island residents by ensuring any changes on this essential issue are made by Rhode Islanders themselves.”
In little more than a year, the Trump administration has taken major actions to restrict reproductive freedom across the globe — from reinstituting and expanding the global gag rule, to appointing judges like Neil Gorsuch who oppose the right to abortion, to endlessly chipping away at access to contraception and the gains of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“We also call on our colleagues to pass legislation protecting and expanding access to affordable, comprehensive contraception,” said Representative Bennett.
Rep. Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence) has introduced legislation (2018-H 7625) that would preserve the ACA’s statement that contraception is a preventive health care measure and thus not subject to patient cost-sharing. The bill would allow up to a full year of prescribing and dispensing of contraception and cover over-the-counter contraception when prescribed by a licensed medical provider. Similar legislation was passed in November 2017 in Massachusetts. Other states such as Oregon and California have also enacted these provisions.
“We have seen the strength and perseverance that so many women have endured through the recent #metoo movement and we stand in solidarity with them,” concluded Representative Knight. “Our support of this legislation and our belief that true equality can be achieved by protecting reproductive freedom is unwavering, and we call on our colleagues in the General Assembly to join us in our support and to pass the Reproductive Health Care Act.”
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903