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Monday, January 28, 2019


The House Committee on the Judiciary will hear proposed bills on reproductive health tomorrow night.  The LWVRI, Planned Parenthood, NOW, the Woman Project, the ACLU and other members of the Coalition for Reproductive Freedom, support  5127, The Reproductive Health Care Act, the only bill that will codify Roe v Wade in RI law and remove restrictive and outdated laws from current RI law.  It is important to come and bring your LWVRI pins and signs to support H 5127.  There is a competing bill, 5125, called the Reproductive Privacy Act, which purports to protect Roe v Wade but in fact weakens its protections.  See the analysis by the ACLU below.

Several other bills restricting abortion will be heard as well.  THOSE WHO SUPPORT SAFE AND LEGAL ABORTION NEED TO SHOW UP. 

H 5127 Reproductive Health Care Act compared with H 5125, Reproductive Privacy Act.

• The only goal of the RHCA is to establish reproductive choice as a right under Rhode Island law in accordance with Roe v. Wade. The RHCA was written to accomplish this goal in two main ways: (1) affirmatively codify the rights established in Roe v. Wade as a right under state law and (2) repeal all state statutes that are unconstitutional under Roe that remain in the R.I. General Laws. However, H-5125, the “Reproductive Privacy Act,” fails to accomplish that fundamental goal.
• Contrary to the RHCA and its basic goal, H-5125 preserves two anti-choice measures previously recognized as unconstitutional: explicitly preserving a revised version of the state’s criminal “quick child” law and implicitly preserving the state’s “Partial Birth Abortion” Act.
• As to the “quick child” law, the RHCA repeals that statute, while H-5125 revises it. Revising the language, instead of repealing it, amounts to a back-door effort to use the bill as a vehicle for “fetal homicide” legislation, which specifically, and problematically, treats a fetus as a person. Such a provision simply has no place in a bill purporting to preserve reproductive freedom.
• In addition, the “quick child” language has not been enforced because of its constitutional problems, yet is given new support by H-5125. Its inclusion would only create ambiguities about the bill’s meaning and applicability.
• Unlike the RHCA, H-5125 also fails to repeal the state’s “partial birth abortion” law, which was definitively declared unconstitutional in 1999. By repealing every other state abortion law that was struck down by the courts and leaving this particular one on the books, H-5125 reinforces legislative support of this unconstitutional law. This is particularly concerning since, unlike the federal law ban that remains applicable in Rhode Island, the state law that H-5125 fails to repeal banned the most common medical procedure used in second-trimester abortions. Although we do not believe unconstitutional laws like this one can be resurrected should the U.S. Supreme Court undermine or reverse Roe, their full repeal was designed to prevent that argument from even being considered.
• H-5125 contains new language requiring compliance with “all applicable federal and state law,” which are not specified. This language could support attacks on reproductive rights by virtue of its open-ended ambiguity. Right now, mandatory federal law — not the law of Rhode Island — preserves reproductive rights. If that changes, new federal restrictions — currently unknown — may be interpreted as mandatory by this vague language, and current state laws could be misapplied to interfere with reproductive rights.
The Reproductive Privacy Act should either be amended to mirror the RHCA, or else rejected in favor of the RHCA, which is the only bill that truly meets the goal of codifying Roe into state law.

(401) 831-7171 | ACLU of RHODE ISLAND | riaclu.org

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Rally at the State House on Wednesday, January 23, to show support for Reproductive Freedom in Rhode Island

The League is part of the Coalition for Reproductive Freedom which is holding a rally at the State House on Wednesday, January 23.

JAN. 23, 2019 RHCA Celebration at the State House

Reproductive Health Care Act - Step 1 victory

Thank you, All, who contacted Gov. Raimondo, urging her to include in her State of the State address passage of the Reproductive Health Care Act (RHCA) this year as one of her priorities.  She did so, and that message drew huge applause from a majority of legislators and visitors alike.!!!! 

This is one early victory for us....but..next step... We need as many of you as possible to pack the State House "Roe-tunda" next Wednesday, January 23, at 3:00 p.m for the celebratory roll-out of this year's bills, with speakers, press coverage, etc.  Bring your friends.   (This will come a day after the annual Right To Life gathering, and as a visual we need to have at least as large a crowd.) The House bill is H-5127, introduced by Rep. Edith Ajello, and 38 co-sponsors. The Senate version, introduced by Sen. Gayle Goldin, is S-2163, with 17 co-sponsors.

You can seek out your legislators afterwards to voice your support for the bill; thank those who have signed on; and urge them to lean on the Leadership for a floor vote and passage this year. Or if they oppose, let them know passage is important to you, 71% of Rhode Islanders polled this year, and 61% of Catholics in Rhode Island. 

To find out who your legislator is go to: www.sec.state.ri.us/elections/findyourofficials.

To find who are co-sponsors go to:  State of Rhode Island General Assembly,  Press Releases 1/15/2019 "Goldin, Ajello file Reproductive Health Care Act."

Before the bells that announce the beginning of a session you can enter either chamber. Sessions usually start around 4:00 p.m., when visitors leave the chamber, but may view the legislative session from the 3rd floor galleries.

Parking. You can park at the Mall for 2 hrs for free. It's about an 8 min. walk to the entry of the State House on Smith St. Otherwise there are parking meters around the State House for up to 2 hrs.and take quarters and credit cards.  Carpooling is always a good option.

If you can't attend, please telephone your representative/senator to thank them for co-sponsoring/and or e-mail them.  

Hoping to see as many of you as possible next Wednesday!

Mary Chace - League of Women Voters, RI Coalition for Reproductive Freedom

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Call your Representative tomorrow to ask him to support HR 1, which contains essential reforms of the voting process

Tomorrow, members of the 116th Congress will be sworn in and begin their work to represent their constituents. At the League, we are excited about the new session of Congress and we are proud to support a new piece of legislation--HR1: For the People Act-- which stands to improve American elections by making our elections more free, fair, and accessible to all eligible Americans.  
HR1 includes comprehensive reforms, like restoring the Voting Rights Act, improving Automatic Voter Registration, creating a public financing system through small donor matching funds, overturning Citizens United, ending partisan gerrymandering, and more! This bill will make our elections fairer and put the power back into the hands of the American people and it deserves bipartisan support.  
Voters sent a clear message in the 2018 elections that they are ready for bold, comprehensive democracy reforms. Now we must continue to demand change by speaking out. Call your Representative today and ask them to vote Yes for HR1

Monday, December 31, 2018

Getting out the vote is the most important way to fulfill the hope for a better America

Here is a link to an eloquent statement by Jesse Jackson, Sr., expressing how far we still have to go to establish equality of opportunity 300 years after the first African slaves landed in America.  It is from today's New York Times.



We are at the forefront of the most important federal and state voting rights cases around the country. We actively oppose discriminatory voter photo ID laws, fight against attacks voter registration process and hold lawmakers accountable when they try to institute last-minute Election Day barriers. We work year-round to combat voter suppression through advocacy, grassroots organizing, legal action and public education. Our efforts have resulted in the protection of voting rights and ballot access for millions of Americans.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Link to talking points on why asking about citizenship on the 2020 census will likely cut federal funding to our communities

One of the issues on which LWVRI members need to act this year is to oppose putting a citizenship question on the 2020 census.  You can see why this is so critically important to your community at this link.  Please contact your legislators and urge them to oppose putting the question on the census.


The League opposes a citizenship question on the upcoming census. Speak to your legislator about how this question would affect funding for our communities

Talking Points: Citizenship Question in 2020 Census

On this page, LWVUS will maintain updated talking points for all Leagues to speak with one voice about the dangers of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.
Late in the evening on March 26, 2018, the Commerce Department announced the addition of an untested and unnecessary question to the 2020 Census form, which will ask every person in America about their citizenship status.
This issue can be overturned, and we will fight to see it removed from the 2020 Census.
Our strategy to counter this decision will be three parts:
  1. Characterize the decision by the Commerce Department to include the question as WRONG – and if the question remains, it will have a major impact on the accuracy of the Census.
  2. Reiterate the importance of the Census and the many uses of Census data for all communities.
  3. Action: We will fight to fix this and work with everyone who cares about the accuracy of the Census to change the decision and remove the question on citizenship from the Census.


Why including a question about citizenship is wrong and if this question remains, it will harm the results of the Census:  

  • The Constitution says to count all persons – not all citizens. 
  • The Commerce Secretary made a wrong decision to include this question in the Census.  
  • This unnecessary citizenship question is invasive and will raise concerns about the confidentiality of personal information. 
  • This intrusive question will cause participation in the Census to plummet. 
  • This question is a political move designed to frighten immigrants into not participating in the Census. 
  • The cost of adding an untested question this late in the process is significant to taxpayers.  

Why it is critical to get the 2020 Census right:  

  • Getting an accurate count in the 2020 Census is critical to all American communities.
  • Millions of people including community groups, local officials and business entrepreneurs rely on the Census to provide accurate, comprehensive data about our nation that impacts us all:  
    • Census data is the basis for fair political representation and this data is used to draw district lines reflective of the population.   
    • Community leaders use Census data to allocate resources including public safety planning and disaster response, education needs, hospitals, assistance for veterans and transportation.
    • Business leaders use Census data to make investment decisions that boost economic growth.
  • We only get one chance every ten years to get this right. The Census must be done fairly and accurately.  

We will fight to fix this decision and remove the citizenship question from the 2020 Census:  

  • This is not a partisan issue. There is bipartisan opposition to adding the citizenship question, including 61 members of Congressmore than 160 Democratic and Republican mayors; six former Census directors who served in Republican and Democratic administrations; 19 attorneys general; the statistical community; and several dozen business leaders from across the country.  
  • We call on Congress to reverse this decision and remove the citizenship question from the Census. The stakes are too high to allow this question to derail the count.  
  • It is up to Congress to exercise oversight and appropriations authority over the Census Bureau.  
  • We will join forces with business leaders, elected officials of all parties as well as grassroots leaders and civic activists to defend our Census.
  • We call on our mayors, our city council members and local officials to speak out about this issue and tell Congress they must take action to fix this error in judgment. 
  • State officials are already acting. The state of California has filed a lawsuit and the state of New York plans to lead a multistate legal effort in opposition of the untested citizenship question on the 2020 Census. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Proposals for Reform: National Task Force on Rule of Law & Democracy Preet Bharara, Christine Todd Whitman, Mike Castle, Christopher Edley, Jr, Chuck Hagel, David Iglesias, Amy Comstock Rick, Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. October 2, 2018

Here is a link to the report of the National Task Force on the Rule of Law and Democracy, with ideas about what can be done.  Food for thought.