PROVIDENCE – Combining legislators, activists and women’s rights groups, the Rhode Island Choice Coalition held a rally in the Statehouse Rotunda Thursday in anticipation of Sunday’s 39th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in America.
“We are not standing here before you celebrating abortion on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade,” state Rep. Teresa Tanzi of South Kingstown told several dozen people who gathered for the event. “What we are promoting and preserving are options for men and women, a full range of healthcare options so we don’t find ourselves faced with the unintended pregnancies. That’s what we want for our sisters and our daughters, for our wives, our friends and our citizens.”
“What 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 don’t have to get to the point where abortion is the only option remaining,” Tanzi said. “But 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.”
“The importance of protecting women’s access to abortion is as clear as ever, maybe clearer,” added Providence Rep. Edith Ajello. “Anti-choice legislators are using the ongoing (federal) health care reform debate as an opportunity to severely restrict women’s access to abortion.
“Anti-choice organizations and lawmakers still aim to overturn Roe v. Wade.” She said “they work over the long term” to secure a Supreme Court majority that would overturn the controversial 1973 decision.
“Women’s reproductive freedom is at stake,” she asserted. “Roe v. Wade is one vote away from being overturned.”
Judy Tabar, President of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England said that organization serves 7,000 patients in Providence “and they primarily come to us for prevention.
“But today,” she added, “we 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.”
Cranston Sen. Joshua Miller said that, as the only Jewish legislator in the General Assembly, “I have a strong feeling when it comes to voting on legislation that I feel is designed by the beliefs of other people’s 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.”
“Two generations of Rhode Islanders have been able to take for granted the fundamental right to privacy that Roe v. Wade gave all of us,” said ACLU Executive Director Steven Brown. “But 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.”
He urged people to lobby legislators and public officials “to make sure we will be able to celebrate Roe v. Wade 39 years from now.”