College Dems show their support at the statehouse for reproductive rights 

Photo Courtesy of University of Rhode Island College Democrats.

Members of the University of Rhode Island College Democrats attended a hearing for the Reproductive Healthcare Act last Tuesday, Jan. 31 at the Statehouse in Providence.

Andrew Boardman, president of the URI College Democrats, was one of about a dozen members who felt it was important to be in attendance. Boardman said that members of the political group are extremely concerned about women losing their right to have a safe, legal abortion in the United States. “This is an issue we’ve been following for quite some time and we’re hoping to see passed,” Boardman said.

Boardman’s main concern stems from the fact that the balance of power is evidently shifting in the Supreme Court. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed last fall and his largely pro-life view could cause Roe v. Wade, a court case that legalized abortion in the U.S, could get overturned if put to a vote.

While the hearing for the Reproductive Healthcare Act at the Statehouse came as a surprise for many, Boardman quickly made arrangements to be there and have the opportunity to represent the students at URI. “Everything was telling us we had to make our voices heard,” Boardman said.

Campus and Community Director of the URI College Democrats, Allison Lantagne, also attended the hearing, but had her own reasons for doing so. According to Lantagne, the Reproductive Healthcare Act has simply been ignored by the state government until recently.

“It is important for all of us who are allies for reproductive rights to let the Rhode Island legislature know that their constituents are watching and counting on them to make the right call,” she said.

Boardman said that while the hearing ran until 3 a.m., the students did not stay the whole time and left around 8 p.m, but they were still able to watch plenty of people testify either in favor of or against the act.

Some students were also able to speak with state representatives Theresa Tanzi and Kathleen Fogarty, who are both from South Kingstown.

“We’re really grateful to have representatives in our area fighting for reproductive healthcare,” said Boardman.

Other local news sources reported that there were actually five bills being debated at the hearing. Lantagne remembered that one of the bills called for more restrictions on third-trimester abortions, which she described as “the most memorable argument” but also “upsetting” to her.

Despite the solutions the other bills had to offer, Boardman says he is still most in favor of the Reproductive Healthcare Act because, in his opinion, it was the only one that upheld “the Roe v. Wade standard.”

Latagne said the hearing was a memorable experience.

“It is always intriguing to me when I see citizens engaged in their government and holding them accountable, regardless of what side of the aisle they are from,” she said.

Boardman is still hopeful that the act will get enough support.

“This bill is overwhelmingly supported by young people,” he said. “The support is broad-based, so it’s more important than ever to get these bills codified into state law. I hope we can make an impact on this debate.”