It was just one week ago that we made history with the passage of the Reproductive Privacy Act. We showed what was possible when Rhode Islanders come together to leverage our collective strength to push for policies that will make a positive difference for the health and the lives of people in our state. Let’s keep it up!
There is only a short time left in the 2019 legislative session. We are asking you to continue to join us in speaking out to flex our muscles and make a difference. There are THREE key pieces of legislation related to our right to manage our health, plan our families and build our own futures that need your help!
MATERNAL HEALTH: Right now in the United States Black women are experiencing much higher rates of pregnancy complications and have been found to be as much as FOUR TIMES as likely to die as a result of maternal mortality. This is a public health crisis that deserves our attention.
One step that we can take this year is to support the Doula Reimbursement Act (H 5609). Doulas are birth companions who provide non-medical support to people before, during, and after childbirth. This bill would require that doula services be covered for people who use Medicaid benefits.
Studies have shown that having a doula improves health outcomes, reduces cesarean section rates, increases the rate of nursing and results in fewer low birthweight babies, but not everyone is able to afford this important support service. This bill would help to close the gap. We are pleased to share that H 5609 just passed out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and is now headed to the Senate floor for a vote. Learn more.
TAKE ACTION: Call your senator TODAY,”I am urging you to support H 5609, the Doula Reimbursement Act. Black women face much higher rates of pregnancy complications and maternal mortality. This bill is an important first step to dealing with this health crisis. Studies have shown providing doula support services greatly improves health outcomes for women and their children. Please, vote yes on this critical legislation.” You can also send them an email. Click HERE for contact information. Not sure who represents you? No problem, click HERE.
RIGHT TO PARENT FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILTIES: Parents with disabilities routinely face barriers in parenting, from lack to access to reproductive health care to discriminatory treatment in child custody and adoption cases. Research from the National Council on Disability found that the percentage of parents with intellectual disabilities who have their children taken away from them is as high as 40 percent to 80 percent.
It is unconscionable that instead of making sure parents have the support they need we are breaking up families and denying the most basic and profound right to parent your children with dignity. H 5562 would ensure education of hospital, child protective services and judicial staff in the equal protection rights of parents with disabilities in the context of child welfare, foster care, family law, and adoption. It also states that a parent’s disability cannot serve as the basis of referral to a hospital social worker or the Department of Children, Youth, and Families or the denial or restriction of visitation and custody either if the child’s best interests are taken into account.
TAKE ACTION: This is truly important legislation that needs to be enacted this year! The Senate passed the bill and was eventually referred to the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare. Can you make a call to Chairman Joseph McNamara (401-941-8319) AND send an email to all of the committee members TODAY to urge them to vote yes on this bill and push to get it passed out of the House? Click HERE for contact information for the HEW committee.
You can simply say, “No parent should have their child taken away because they have a disability. This is cruel and a human rights violation. I am urging the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare to take up this bill and to recommend passage. We need to do more to support families and people with disability. This is a critical, common sense first step.”
ENSURING RIGHTS OF LGBT PARENTS: H 5707 has been referred to as the “Stand Up for Families Act”. This bill, also known as the Rhode Island Parentage Act updates state law to clarify who can be a parent to ensure that all children can have their legal parentage established regardless of the circumstances of their birth. The current law is out-of-date and frankly unconstitutional.
Right now in Rhode Island, the rights of parents of children born through assisted reproduction or surrogacy are not protected. This impacts many families, but has a disparate impact on the LGBT community. Learn more.
TAKE ACTION: The Senate passed the “Uniform Parentage Act” (S789) 35-to-0. Yes, you read that right. No senators went on record to oppose this measure. It is sitting in House Judiciary. We need it to be passed out of committee and by the full House right away! Please, call the House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Craven RIGHT NOW (401-294-2222). Tell him, “Rhode Island parentage laws need to be updated to reflect and respect the diversity of families. We do not need any additional studies. We need action to protect the rights of LGBT parents and children born using assisted reproduction. Please, take up and pass S 789 this year. Families should not have to wait any longer for this important bill to be passed into law.” Please, also EMAIL the entire House Judiciary committee to urge them to take up this bill and pass it on to the House floor. Click HERE for contact info.
We know how powerful we are when we come together and raise our voices. Let’s do it again in these final days. Let’s keep advocating for the rights and the support that women and families need!