PROVIDENCE — Hundreds of people crowded in front of the Rhode Island State House Tuesday night in protest after a draft majority opinion leaked to the public Monday showed the US Supreme Court preparing to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that protects women’s right to an abortion.
College students raised signs, abortion providers marched up the hill to the State House’s stairs wearing their white coats, and women who said they came of age when abortion was still illegal throughout the US were in the crowd. They cheered on speakers, like Tammy Brown, a board member of The Womxn Project, who called on Governor Dan McKee to submit a budget amendment that would use the state’s Medicaid program to cover abortions.
“You have his ear,” Brown said to Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos, another one of the speakers. “You can’t just stand here,” she said, adding: “the time to act is now.”
At the #RoeVWade rally at the R.I. State House tonight, I spoke with Liza Nasreddine of Ireland, who is a grandmother, and aunt. She now lives in R.I. She says abortion will still be around, but women will die.— Carlos R. Munoz 📰 (@ReadCarlos) May 4, 2022
🎧 Listen to our chat before Tuesday's rally: pic.twitter.com/40eyKntoes
Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, who is running for Governor this year, said as a mother of three children, she is “deeply saddened and frightened for their future.”
“Abortion is on the ballot. Here in Rhode Island, and across the country,” said Gorbea, who encouraged attendees to vote for those with “proven track records of protecting reproductive rights.”
Another political candidate, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, who is running for Rhode Island’s Second Congressional District, said it was time for Rhode Island to pass the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act, which would allow the state’s Medicaid program to cover abortions.
“The far right of this country has been working toward this for years,” said Magaziner of the possibility of overturning Roe v. Wade.
The EACA’s sponsors, Representative Liana Cassar and Senator Bridget Valverde, both Democrats, said they know the governor is in full support of the EACA, and that it’s up to Senate and House leadership to pass the bill in the General Assembly.
“Every Rhode Islander deserves access to abortion,” said Cassar. “There’s just a little bit more work to do. And we can get it done this year.”
“Elections matter. In this election cycle, it will be crucial for all of us to vote for those with proven track records of protecting reproductive rights,” said @NellieGorbea, who is also running for Governor. “There is no time to waste.”@Globe_RI pic.twitter.com/7qFa2938GH— Alexa Gagosz (@AlexaGagosz) May 4, 2022
Another candidate for political office, @SethMagaziner, is now speaking.— Alexa Gagosz (@AlexaGagosz) May 4, 2022
“The far right of this country has been working toward this for years.”
He has called for the EACA to pass during this legislative session.
“We need to codify Roe v. Wade at the federal level.”@Globe_RI pic.twitter.com/huHaXTqNZC
Noting: Advocates at the State House are calling on @GovDanMcKee to do just this. @LGSabinaMatos is here and advocates just said “you have his ear,” and told her to “not just stand here,” but to include this legislation in the state budget. @BostonGlobe https://t.co/euXbcwI6aB— Alexa Gagosz (@AlexaGagosz) May 4, 2022
Phrases including “Controlling my body, controlling my future,” were projected onto the State House’s marble facade, behind the speakers. A black hot air balloon was inflated off to the side, and a portrait of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a fierce advocate of abortion rights, was projected on to it.
“I don’t think any of us here want to be here.. But we knew this was coming. And it’s much worse than what I tried not to think about,” said State Representative Rebecca Kislak into a microphone. “This [leaked Supreme Court opinion] is a map for overturning opinions that are really important for us.”
Demonstrator Emma Mariano says on the steps of the Rhode Island State House that if you’re tweeting about how you want to make a change and you’re a government official, you should “just work to make a change instead of tweeting about it.” #RoeVWade pic.twitter.com/8HU583u9PT— Carlos R. Munoz 📰 (@ReadCarlos) May 4, 2022
Alexa Gagosz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz. Carlos Muñoz can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ReadCarlos and on Instagram @Carlosbrknews.