One year ago, on June 19, 2019, after a quarter-century of the Rhode Island legislature failing to pass the Reproductive Privacy Act (RPA), a women’s reproductive rights movement made history with an innovative, multiyear lobbying campaign to finally get the bill passed. Forty-six years after Roe v. Wade was signed into law, the RPA was enshrined at the state level, ensuring women access to safe, legal abortions.
In addition to securing abortion protections, the RPA also erased unobserved vestigial laws off the books that some feared the Trump administration would enforce if it ever managed to overturn Roe v. Wade in its obsession for complete cultural power over women. One law required prior notice of an abortion from a spouse, another mandated imprisonment for anyone who attempted to induce a “miscarriage” in a pregnant woman, and another said that human life begins at the instant of conception.
In Rhode Island, about 20 reproductive rights groups form the backbone of an intersectional women’s movement. On the heels of Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court — a justice who narrowly interprets a woman’s right to an abortion — the movement ramped up its confrontation of patriarchal power that controls the state legislature.
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