PROVIDENCE â Combining legislators, activists and womenâs rights groups, the Rhode Island Choice Coalition held a rally in the Statehouse Rotunda Thursday in anticipation of Sundayâs 39th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Courtâs Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in America.
âWe are not standing here before you celebrating abortion on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade,â state Rep. Teresa Tanzi of South Kingstown told several dozen people who gathered for the event. âWhat we are promoting and preserving are options for men and women, a full range of healthcare options so we donât find ourselves faced with the unintended pregnancies. Thatâs what we want for our sisters and our daughters, for our wives, our friends and our citizens.â
âWhat we need to do is work together to make sure that men and women have access to a full range of reproductive options where we donât have to get to the point where abortion is the only option remaining,â Tanzi said. âBut if it does come down to that, we have to make sure that these options are available for those who need them in our state.â
âThe importance of protecting womenâs access to abortion is as clear as ever, maybe clearer,â added Providence Rep. Edith Ajello. âAnti-choice legislators are using the ongoing (federal) health care reform debate as an opportunity to severely restrict womenâs access to abortion.
âAnti-choice organizations and lawmakers still aim to overturn Roe v. Wade.â She said âthey work over the long termâ to secure a Supreme Court majority that would overturn the controversial 1973 decision.
âWomenâs reproductive freedom is at stake,â she asserted. âRoe v. Wade is one vote away from being overturned.â
Judy Tabar, President of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England said that organization serves 7,000 patients in Providence âand they primarily come to us for prevention.
âBut today,â she added, âwe honor and uphold Roe in our belief that every woman should have the right to make her own medical decision about her health, including abortion. And we are not alone. The majority of Americans believe as we do that women should have the right to make their own decisions.â
Cranston Sen. Joshua Miller said that, as the only Jewish legislator in the General Assembly, âI have a strong feeling when it comes to voting on legislation that I feel is designed by the beliefs of other peopleâs faiths, no matter how strong that belief may be. As a legislator, I feel that we have an obligation to uphold rulings of the Supreme Court.â
âTwo generations of Rhode Islanders have been able to take for granted the fundamental right to privacy that Roe v. Wade gave all of us,â said ACLU Executive Director Steven Brown. âBut it is a right that remains under constant and serious attack. Here in Rhode Island we have had to go to court over half a dozen times in order to successfully challenge laws that this General Assembly has passed over the decades to try to restrict that fundamental right.â
He urged people to lobby legislators and public officials âto make sure we will be able to celebrate Roe v. Wade 39 years from now.â