PROVIDENCE — With a doctor, lawmakers and religious leaders in their midst, advocates for “reproductive justice” gathered at the State House Tuesday and unveiled a list of priorities that covers everything from health coverage to domestic-violence prevention to stronger protections for abortion.

More than 50 people attended the event, organized by the Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Justice and held one day before the 41{+s}{+t} anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

In all, the group listed 11 priorities on its “legislative agenda,” all of them expected to emerge as bills.

The priorities include extending Medicaid coverage beyond two years for women who have delivered babies, removing “gender discrimination” from state health insurance laws so that they match the federal Affordable Care Act, requiring employers to provide accommodations that allow pregnant women to “continue to do their jobs and support their families,” and providing abortion coverage for all women who are on Medicaid.

The event featured six speakers, most of whom stressed the need to think of “reproductive justice” — a phrase that became popular after a 1994 national pro-choice conference for the Black Women’s Caucus — as more than just one issue.

“Simply put, reproductive justice is the right for women to have or not have children, and the ability to parent those children in a healthy and safe environment,” said the Rev. Amy Frenze, pastor at Hope Congregational Church, in East Providence, and a member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Justice.

Frenze said reproductive justice also means “taking a stand against the issues that women face,” such as “health-care inequalities, economic disparities and domestic violence.”

“Women’s lives, our families and our communities are inextricably linked, and our great state gets stronger when women are empowered to make decisions for their lives,” she said.

Despite a snowstorm, the event drew several political candidates, including Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, who is running for governor; Guillaume de Ramel, who is running for secretary of state; and Brett Smiley, who is running for mayor in Providence. All three are Democrats. Also on hand were former state Sen. Rhoda Perry and state Sen. Joshua Miller, D-Cranston, both of whom spoke.

Paula Hodges, a director of public policy and advocacy at Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, said the coalition, formerly known as the Rhode Island Choice Coalition, has broadened its focus and now has “17 partner organizations,” including the religious coalition and the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Right to Life, a local organization that advocates for “the innocent lives of the unborn,” will hold its 2014 Rally for Life on Tuesday.

From the Providence Journal