To the Editor:
On Tuesday, March 5, the House Judiciary Committee was scheduled to meet for a vote on House Bill 5125. Their vote will determine if, finally and at last, a bill protecting Rhode Island women’s reproductive rights will be brought to the floor for a vote.
In the past week I have counted several prominent men come out loudly in the Providence Journal to proclaim their objections to a woman’s right to choose. The articles only reinforce how they couch their arguments on patently false claims/accusations that a law to codify Roe v. Wade will allow the killing of babies in late-term abortions. These fact-less accusations have been refuted again and again by prominent Rhode Island medical practitioners and lawyers alike. But it is an argument that is clearly being used to intimidate state lawmakers and set everyone’s hair on fire.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a leading research and policy organization, the three most common reasons for a woman to have an abortion are concern for, or responsibility to, other individuals; the inability to afford raising a child; and the belief that having a baby would interfere with work, school or ability to care for dependents.
So if the opponents of this bill really believe a woman and her doctor cannot be trusted to make such a deeply personal decision, then I wonder, are they prepared to help support mothers after the baby is born? Where are their voices supporting bills concerning the health and welfare of women and Rhode Island's families? I did not see them at the recent hearings on eliminating gender rating in health insurance – a practice that discriminates against women who have to buy single-payer insurance policies because women’s healthcare costs too much. Why? Because women have babies.
I do not see them in hearings on bills supporting minimum wage increases or equal pay. Where are they in supporting single moms who are the majority of minimum-pay workers? I did not hear or see them last year supporting bills that would raise the wages of CNA workers – a group of workers who are mostly women with families to support.
Why do we only hear from these groups on this one issue? Why is their support and concern only about the fetus and not the woman and how she and her family will survive?