On Tuesday, October 3rd, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-Rhode Island) voted no on HR 36, a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks. Langevin had previously voted for this bill in 2013 and 2015. This year, women from around the state called and wrote to him to urge him to vote differently this time — and he did. His willingness to listen to ordinary constituents and take their views into account when casting his vote is all too rare in today’s political landscape.
Langevin’s vote set an example for his colleagues in Congress — that they need to listen to, and represent, their constituents. His official statement, that he came to this decision after speaking with doctors and women in his district, is what we want our legislators to do. We hope that when we attempt to persuade legislators to vote for women’s health and reproductive rights, they will listen to us — and he did.
This vote didn’t happen overnight and it didn’t happen by accident. It happened because women came together and asked. We didn’t give up on our congressman because he’d voted against us in the past. In our district, he’s the only congressman we have, so he was going to cast a vote on behalf of all of us regardless of how we felt about his past votes.
So we got together as a team on Sunday nights. Those of us who have young children asked our partners or someone else to take care of our kids so that we could stand up for ourselves and our sisters and our daughters. We shared a pot of soup. We spread out around the living room and the kitchen, and we called our legislator. We called other women and asked them to call our legislator. Some women had never made these calls before, so women taught each other to make them, and supported each other after the tough calls, and swapped success stories about the wonderful calls we had with people so glad to hear from us, so grateful for the work we were doing.
And then, the night of the vote, as word spread and excitement spread throughout the network we’d built, we celebrated the feeling of knowing not only that we’d stood up for ourselves, but this time it had worked.
Thank you, Congressman Langevin.
Thank you for listening to us, thank you for supporting us, and thank you for voting in solidarity with us. We’re glad to have earned your vote on this legislation, and we’ll keep working hard to earn your vote on important issues in the future, and working hard to involve even more women in having a say about the issues that are important to us.