Gubernatorial candidates continue to debate reproductive freedom

By Britney Dixon, Tyger Allen and Natalie Almeida

Sept. 11, 2018

 

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PC: Tyger Allen

 

 

BRISTOL, R.I. — As the smallest state in the country, Rhode Island ranks sixth in the nation for those without health care coverage. The 4.3 percent of Rhode Islanders without coverage face a big issue that is common within most Health Care plans – reproductive freedom.

 

One major topic of debate between the state’s gubernatorial candidates is reproductive rights. A candidate’s stance could very well impact who they receive votes from, and while many can make promises, only few can act.

For Incumbent Governor Gina Raimondo, her actions surrounding those rights have been heavily questioned. Recently, Raimondo has been against the president’s pro-life stance on abortion. When she won the senate race in 2015, the Democratic candidate was pro-choice.

Soon after her victory, she began to sign bills that leaned toward a pro-life mentality, like the Rhode Island Appropriations Bill for 2016, as it was reported by Rewire News. The bill, signed by Raimondo in 2015, meant that around 9,000 Rhode Islanders lost coverage of abortion.

 

According to the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL), a pro-choice organization, Rhode Island scored an “F” grade and is labeled as a ‘severely restricted’ state when it comes to reproductive rights. NARAL provides a statistic from the Guttmacher Institute that 36 percent of Rhode Island women live in counties without an abortion clinic.

Raimondo’s Democratic challenger, Matt Brown, is using events from Raimondo’s tenure to sway voters from their party toward his campaign. His campaign brings up instances where Raimondo has left democratic Rhode Islanders upset, like when Raimondo signed what the American Civil Liberties Union describes as the “first anti-abortion legislation enacted in Rhode Island in over 15 years.”

 

“Matt Brown will use all means available to pass the Reproductive Health Care Act,” said Ron Knox, Brown’s campaign spokesperson. “He will be a governor who will take on the Trump-Pence administration’s anti-women, anti-choice attacks and fight not just to protect reproductive freedom in Rhode Island, but to expand it.”

The Republican favorite, Allan Fung, has not been public with his view of reproductive rights. According to a report by the Providence Journal, Fung was questioned on whether he would sign the Reproductive Health Care Act. Fung declined to comment.

It was also reported that in Fung’s past campaign to be Rhode Island governor in 2014, he was publically pro-choice. However, he appears to have changed his stance since then, stating for the Providence Journal in June of this year that late-term abortions are a “disgusting practice”.

 

For college-aged Rhode Islanders, a coverage plan isn’t just about abortions. Access to contraceptives is an important part of a reproductive health care plan. And those, according to 21-year-old North Kingston native Morgan McVay, are a fairly simple find.

 

“I scheduled an appointment with my gynecologist and we discussed my birth control options,” said McVay. “She was very pro-birth control and within a month I had the [intrauterine device] inserted. My Blue Cross insurance covered the visit and product.”

 

While McVay had no problems obtaining her contraceptives, Rhode Islanders still have more restrictions in their rights than neighboring states. In Connecticut and Massachusetts, the parent of a minor does not need to consent before any action is taken. However, in Rhode Island, it is illegal to proceed without parental consent.

 

According to a WPRI poll, 49 percent of voters support the signing of the Reproductive Health Care Act. Those votes were in the majority, as 32 percent were opposed to it. That left 18 percent of voters polled who were unsure if they supported or opposed it.

 

As of May 1, 2018, Rhode Islanders’ insurance covering abortion was limited to only a few specific scenarios.

 

The worry for some, including chairwoman of the Rhode Island Democratic Party Women’s Caucus Sulina Mohanty, is that the decision will ultimately be made by the Supreme Court, five or six of which (depending on if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed), are men. Until the verdict is final, women will continue to fight for their rights, not only in Rhode Island, but nationwide.

 

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Border of Opportunities

 

 

Bristol, R.I- Students from all over the world look to the United States as the top achievement in higher education.

Those who come as students to foreign nation are following a path to greater opportunities then available to them at home.

Not only are they leaving to further their education most are seeking refuge from war stricken areas. Those who are leaving are fleeing for their safety. Not only are there military targets but civilian targets.

If not for attending universities many who are students would otherwise be called to indefinite military service until resolution.

College education is not only an opportunity to further knowledge for these students but a door to a better life.

President Trump’s Travel Ban on Humans

Abdullah Soufan
Abdullah Soufan, 24, an architecture graduate student, studying as a refugee from Syria at Roger Williams University. (Photo Credits Natalie Almeida)

Bristol, R.I.- The United States Supreme Court allowed President Trump’s Travel Ban to take full effect as of its last ruling on Monday.

The latest edition of the travel ban implements levels of restrictions on foreign nationals from eight countries including: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Somalia and Yemen.

Supreme Court Allows Trump Travel Ban
Supreme Court allows latest Trump Travel Ban to take Effect. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/04/us/politics/trump-travel-ban-supreme-court.html?_r=0

This latest ban not only is targeting war stricken communities but also placing a border on those coming to seek relief.

Abdullah Soufan, is a graduate student at Roger Williams University, but also a Syrian Refugee, studying for his Master Degree in Architecture. “I can not leave this country” he says now that the ban is in place.

The ban also has an element that allows those who have obtained visas to stay in this country but can not leave and come back due to restrictions.

“It splits families, it limits career opportunities” Dr. Joseph Roberts, Associate Professor of Politics and International Relations at RWU said when explaining the ban and its limitations.

Coming to a a new country to further education is one of the main reasons students come to the United States. As a nation, we are seen as the most prestigious for higher education.

There is a need to place restrictions on those coming from areas that have had conflicts in their relations with the United States as a part of national security for the country, but in that dynamic.

Placing a ban completely denies those who are in search of opportunities that may have been their way out of a war torn life. The border now created, prays on the most vulnerable and in need of help, by turning them away primarily based on where they are coming from.

A Whole New World

Bristol, R.I.- The college transition in itself is a whole new experience for incoming freshman. It is an extreme transition for someone not only going to school in a different state, but a different country.

In the last year, the number of international students furthering higher education in the United States actually had an increasing jump by 10 percent, roughly 975,000 according to the Institute of International Education backed by the State Department.

Within the United States, there are top university and colleges with the highest percentage of International students with percentages reaching almost 50% of the entire student population from hundreds of countries. The top school Columbia University in New York City incorporating their over seas students with a International student advisory board specifically to meet their needs. The map shown generates the top 10 schools for international students with predominate focus on the east coast.

With the worry with the new Trump administration and cracking down on immigration especially from the middle east, those students now make up only 10% of student body population compared to 20% in 2013/2014 academic year overall. Specifically Saudi Arabia is the leading sender of students making up 6% of the whole in the United States.

Studying abroad and being an international student are two very different but similar experiences. When studying abroad, as a student, you are there to learn about the culture and adapt to it. As an international student, you are emerged into a culture which in time will become your own.

Within a whole new world to them, International students face a battle all of their own. Relying on a good foundation of friends and the pursuit of dreams in higher education especially in a different country for four years can be scary. The bright side is that this experience has the ability to opens doors for incredible opportunities even across an ocean.