Anti-choice groups silent on issues of real importance to children and families

By Steve Ahlquist

Planned Parenthood of Southern New England “supports Rhode Island increasing the minimum wage to at least $15/hour by 2023 as Massachusetts has done,” reads testimony in Support of Budget Article 13, presented to the Senate Committee on Finance on February 7.

Why is Planned Parenthood concerned about the minimum wage? Isn’t Planned Parenthood all about reproductive justice and access to reproductive health care, including abortion?

“True reproductive freedom,” explains the testimony, “means knowing that when you make the choice to raise a child, you and your family will have at least the minimum economic supports and resources to ensure that child has a great start in life.”

Certainly, I thought, if Planned Parenthood is taking a stand against poverty wages in support of families and children, then groups like Rhode Island Right to Life, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, the Knights of Columbus and the Gaspee Project must also be keen to demonstrate their support for increasing the minimum wage.

I checked all the testimony presented both for and against the minimum wage increase before the Senate Committee on Finance that evening.

The usual group of business lobbyists spoke against it: Elizabeth Suever for the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Daniel Connors for the Rhode Island Franchisee Association, Steve Arthurs for the Rhode Island Food Dealer’s Association, Lenette Forry and Terry Martiesian for the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, Christopher Carlozzi of the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the multiple signatories on the Rhode Island Business Coalition testimony. A veritable Legion of Doom, these lobbyists are paid to spread discredited economic ideology as science, hoping to delay, even if only for a short while, any increase in the minimum wage by fooling gullible legislators with stories based in fear. They defend the practices of businesses that exploit vulnerable populations for profit.

I wasn’t looking for them, I was looking for those who support children and families, and I found them.

There was Rhode Island State Treasurer Seth Magaziner, in support. Stephanie Geller from Rhode Island Kids Count was on the list. George Nee of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO and Patrick Crowley of NEARI were both in support. Rachel Flum of the Economic Progress Institute and James Vincent of the NAACP submitted testimony, as did Craig O’Connor of Planned Parenthood.

But that was it.

I was surprised. The Gaspee Project cares about children so much they went through the trouble of creating a fake poll that asked loaded questions about access to abortion, woefully mischaracterizing the Reproductive Health Care Act, which would codify Roe v Wade into Rhode Island State Law. Surely they had time to write a quick note of support for a minimum wage bill that will help lift Rhode Island families and children out of poverty?

Well, color me disappointed, because it turns out the Gaspee Project, despite all scientific and economic evidence, believes that raising the minimum wage hurts children and families! This is akin to believing that vaccines don’t work, or that the earth is flat, or that man co-existed with dinosaurs, (as seen on The Flintstones.) I mean, it’s just plain stupid, but they believe it, apparently.

Want proof? A quick Internet search reveals what the Gaspee Project wrote on Facebook in 2017″

“Rep. Aaron Regunberg wants to increase the minimum wage to $10.50 with H5057. This measure will kill RI jobs & hurt families.”

Right now the minimum wage is $10.50. Jobs aren’t being killed and families are doing better, not being hurt. But you can bet the Gaspee Project imagineers aren’t changing their ideology besotted minds.

More disappointing: Rhode Island Right to Life, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence and the Knights of Columbus submitted no testimony in support of raising the minimum wage. Their silence, like their incessant moralizing, is deafening, and indefensible.

It’s almost like these groups don’t care about children at all.