The Woman Project met David Cazares at the Senate Judiciary Hearing for the Reproductive Health Care Act of 2018. We followed up with him on where he is in Rhode Island and his continued relationship to the issue of access to reproductive health care for all.
1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself as well as including the kind of work that you do.
I am originally from Soledad, CA, a small town in Central California. I recently graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a Bachelor’s in Urban Studies. Throughout the last several years, I have been politically involved and have worked on various projects focused on social justice. Previously, I worked as a Field Organizer for a city council and a congressional campaign in Orange County, CA. Currently, I am attending Brown University for a Master’s in Public Affairs with a concentration on social policy. In the past three months I have been here, I’ve had the opportunity to testify at the State House for different issues such as, reproductive rights, labor policy, and gun control. With the midterm elections approaching, I am focused on helping progressive candidates get elected.
2. TWP has been working to pass a bill that codifies Roe V Wade into RI state law. We are interested in the ways that Reproductive Freedom impacts your life and the work that you do?
Growing up in a low-income community, it was significant when we got our first local Planned Parenthood. At a young age I had the opportunity to hear Planned Parenthood representatives speak on reproductive freedom and the endless efforts towards legalizing a woman’s right to choose. I remember being extremely shocked this was even an issue, as it was confusing for me to understand why a women’s decision regarding her own body was even an issue. I have always believed reproductive freedom is a basic human right and given that we are in the ‘land of the free’ one would assume women are treated with the respect to make their own decisions. That is why I have always been an ally and advocate for reproductive freedom through volunteering with Planned Parenthood chapters, testifying at the State House on the issue and organizing around legislation affecting reproductive freedom. Just last year, I focused on organizing for a California state bill requiring that abortion pills be available at public university health centers.
On a personal note though, it is especially frustrating to see the rights of women being threatened as I grew up in a household with only women, my single mother and sister. My mother is the strongest person I know and to think that any government entity would ever have the right to dictate what she can do is unacceptable. After all, it is no secret that government representation is dominated by males, so how is it that the people who do not even have a uterus are the one’s making decisions for women? It is both illogical and unethical, but I hope that the work being done by every caring activist will be reflected in a future where reproductive freedom is a right for all.
3. When you think about your community (or communities) what is something you would like them to know about Reproductive Freedom in RI? Why?
I would like people to know that although Rhode Island is a Democratic stronghold, this does not mean all of our elected officials support reproductive freedom. Despite the national consensus within the party supporting reproductive freedom, we have officials who blatantly speak out against this issue, as Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello, believes reproductive freedom is not important enough for the General Assembly to take a vote. It is also unsurprising to know he is endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee who support “pro-life” politicians. As previously mentioned, just because we live in a state dominated by Democrats does not mean that all our elected officials are representing Democratic values and looking out for the interest of women across the state. That is why I hope my community members are engaged with what is happening at the State House where we have officials who refuse to vote on reproductive freedom, but instead take pride on being “pro-life”.
However, with the midterm elections approaching I hope my neighbors know that together we can make a difference and elect candidates who actually represent our values. Fortunately, there are a ton of progressives running to replace the DINO’s (Democrats in name only) currently in office, from City Council to Lieutenant Governor. Although, it is most important to elect pro-choice candidates to the State House and Senate, every office makes a difference as it helps for collective support. Overall, I want communities in RI to know that it is important to get involved because if we don’t we will continue to have leadership that fails us, and we know we deserve better.
4. What are the best ways in your opinion to educate people about this issue?
I believe the most effective ways to educate people about reproductive freedom is through having direct and personable conversations with our neighbors, friends and family. Although, reproductive freedom is not always a topic people feel comfortable discussing, having that personable connection allows for the conversation to transpire. It is then when they see your passion towards the issue they will provide you with a willingness to learn more, and even become an ally. This is especially critical for communities of color as it is comforting when someone that looks like you and speaks your language is discussing reproductive freedom, an issue which often goes neglected. After all, one tends to feel more inclined towards investing their time and energy towards learning of an issue when someone they know is an advocate for it. Ultimately, personal conversations are what will allow for the education of reproductive freedom to be most effective on a one-on-one basis. On a wider scale, I believe demonstrations such as marches, rallies and protests can serve as an educational tool to help inform others about the importance of reproductive freedom. This is because when people can see how passionate others are about an issue, they develop an urgency to learn more and even become involved themselves.
5. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Although, I have only been in Rhode Island for a few months, I am eternally grateful for all the work community members are doing in the fight for social justice. I believe that through collective action and unity there is nothing “we the people” cannot achieve; that is why seeing all of the organizing efforts and contributions across the state makes me hopeful for the future. Though we are in the middle of a dark time in our democracy, I am reassured that brighter days are in the horizon and we will reach the day where reproductive freedom is not up for a debate, but a cemented right.
SIDEBAR || What issue do you go to bed thinking about?
I usually go to bed thinking about the level of inequality in this country. We live in a society where working class people are living paycheck to paycheck, sometimes working multiple jobs, while CEO’s reap the benefits and make millions. It is unjust that we look at the stock market to determine how well our economy is doing instead of focusing on the standard of living for everyday Americans. It is time we reduce the wealth gap and prioritize the building of a strong low/middle class where economic mobility is possible.