“I am an artist and designer by training, an activist by calling, and all that I do is inspired and informed by being a mother with the purpose to create a better and more just world for my kids,” begins Jocelyn Foye, co-founder and now executive director of The Womxn Project. Formed in 2016 to help ensure the protection of reproductive and abortion rights, the grassroots art and activism organization saw an influx of donations when Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022.
You may have seen The Womxn Project’s “ARTivism” in the form of projected messages illuminated on the State Capital Building and other public spaces, and they were integral in the passage of the Reproductive Privacy Act in 2019, which protects the right to abortion for Rhode Islanders, though the work doesn’t stop there. “We helped introduce the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act in 2020 and have built a robust campaign of amazing multi-issue partners who are working with us to get it passed next session,” Foye shares.
Among their goals this year is exposing crisis pregnancy centers – deceptive clinics designed to persuade patients not to seek an abortion and run down the clock for them to be able to receive one legally. “While a legitimate clinic needs to follow basic safety standards and hire trained staff, making it difficult to expand the availability of reproductive health services,” Foye explains, fake centers aren’t held to the same standards, making it easy for them to open quickly.
The Womxn Project also makes space for all voices to be heard, even looking at when legislative sessions are scheduled to ensure working families can attend. “We have the opportunity and the obligation to reimagine how democracy works in Rhode Island. We cannot dismantle systemic and institutional racism if we exclude people from the legislative process,” says Foye.
“There is real work to be done on abortion access and we are going to keep up the fight to make the right real for every Rhode Islander,” says Foye. “But true bodily autonomy also means folks can prevent unintended pregnancies and have healthy pregnancies, that they can raise their children with dignity in safe communities and that we can all be who we are and love who we love and create the future that meets our dreams.”
Reason for Optimism: “While folks are angry and tired, they are also ready to rise up and take action. People call, email, and show up to our events because we give them an opportunity to harness their heartbreak and fear for action. They want to make a difference and we show them how. I am so heartened by the community and movement we have built here and continue to build.”
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