It was a fitting day for the Rhode Island Choice Coalition to rally support for health care access considering the White House Report that was just released recognizing the state for being the top recipient of federal support totaling $64 Million for establishing a health care exchange.
The main theme however, was a commemoration for the 39th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe vs. Wade. Senator Josh Miller, Representative Edith Ajello, Representative Teresa Tanzi, Larry Valencia and other supportive legislators and leaders from community organizations recognized the ongoing impact of the Roe v. Wade decision and called for continued protection for access to reproductive health care.
Speakers focused on accessible medical services for Rhode Island citizens as the state health care exchange continues to develop this spring. They praised Governor Chafee for establishing the health care exchange despite strong opposition in the State Senate.
“As we commemorate this anniversary, lawmakers across the country – including right here in Rhode Island – are lining up to attack a woman’s right to access basic reproductive health care,” reminded Judy Tabar, the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Of Southern New England (PPSNE). “PPSNE is proud to stand here today alongside our coalition partners, in opposition to these attacks,” Tabar continued.
Choice Coalition leaders acknowledged the threat to women’s health services as a national trend. Over 62,000 women in Rhode Island need publicly funded contraceptive services but 16% of Rhode Island women aged 15-44 are uninsured.
Senator Josh Miller (D-3) stated “no legislature should be in the business of micromanaging a woman’s body. Ensuring health care is available to 140,000 impoverished Rhode Islanders is what we need to focus on.” Edith Ajello added she and other lawmakers will “continue to work to broaden, not limit, health care options for men and women. Ensuring women get access to life saving cancer screenings and are counseled about all their options is too important to ignore in short sighted legislation.”
“With more than a dozen groups represented here today and the thousands of supporters and voters among our ranks, we can influence the state legislature to do the right thing. Rhode Island can do better,” echoed Narragansett Representative Teresa Tanzi (D-34).
“A woman’s right to make her own decisions about her body, about her future, and about her health are in very real danger,” stated First Lady Chafee, in a separate statement. “We must be vigilant in protecting these rights and ensuring that they are guaranteed. All of us who believe in these fundamental rights must continue to support the Choice Coalition and work to make sure that we don’t go back to a time when a woman was unable to make decisions for herself.”
Title X federal funding for preventive and contraceptive services supports health centers in Rhode Island, like Planned Parenthood, and helps women avoid 3,500 unintended pregnancies annually. Title X funding saves Rhode Island taxpayers approximately $13 million per year.