Letter: It's past time to protect rights of R.I. women
To the editor:
As a young mother of two who grew up in a Catholic country where abortion is illegal, I feel compelled to write you regarding the recent coverage of the Reproductive Health Care Act (S 274 and H 5343).
In Brazil, where I was born and lived until the age of 18, abortion is illegal. Women who perform an abortion on themselves or allow someone to perform one for them can face one to three years in jail. The only exceptions being rape or a life-threatening condition for the mother. Whether you believe abortions are right or wrong, punishing women for them is absurd. Women who find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy deserve help and support, so they can make the best decisions for themselves and their families. Vulnerable women should not be threatened with the prospect of jail time or driven into shame or hiding for doing something “illegal.”
As I understand, Rhode Island has no protections in place should the federal government change their stance and leave reproductive rights in the hands of states. There are no protections for medically necessary abortions, or in the case of rape. Allowing abortions to become illegal only makes it harder to help women in need; it does not eliminate or reduce the number of abortions. They just stop being tallied. Wealthy women will always have access to abortion, whether here or abroad. Poor women will be the ones bearing the burden.
The Reproductive Health Care Act is aimed at codifying Roe v. Wade into Rhode Island law. It is critically important to clarify some of the misinformation that has been spread about the bill. S 274/H 5343 does not remove the requirement for parental consent. Partial birth abortions are prohibited under federal law and will not become legal. And the R.I. Department of Health will maintain its authority over the licensing and regulating of any health care providers and facilities. All Rhode Islanders who believe in respecting women and leaving difficult health decisions in the hands of women and their doctors, must let their representatives know.
It is past time to protect the rights of women in Rhode Island. Anti-choice and pro-choice activists who have as their true purpose to help women and families — and prevent abortions — need to come together and work on the things that are proven to actually reduce the demand for them. Things like health care, family leave, sex education and cheaper adoption processes. These are the things our government can take action on and truly protect the sanctity of all lives.
52 Ladeira Ave.