On Wednesday, May 29, women of the 4th Congressional District, dressed as handmaids, held a silent protest in Wall Township, where Republican Congressman Chris Smith was scheduled to speak at an Informational Town Meeting on Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases.
Despite heavy rain, the protestors lined up outside the entrance, remaining silent so they could be seen but not disrupt the event or disrespect the concerns of those attending. Their attire – red capes and white hats inspired by the dystopian novel and Television drama The Handmaid’s Tale - were meant to highlight what the women called “Congressman Smith's egregious record on women, the LGBTQ community and others.”
They cite as examples, Congressman Smith’s April 2019 vote against the Women Against Violence Act and the more than 20 times he voted for “personhood” bills. Personhood bills seek to give legal protection to every fertilized egg – beginning at conception – often with little or no regard to the impact on the woman “hosting” the egg or the circumstances of her pregnancy. The ultimate aim appears to be a total ban on abortion as well as some forms of birth control such as IUDs, the protestors say.
In addition, Congressman Smith has publicly dismissed the basic rights of entire communities of people, notoriously stating that he does “not construe homosexual rights as human rights.” He voted over 50 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act with no replacement.
His ranking by human rights groups include a 13% rating from the American Civil Liberties Union and 0% rating from the Human Rights Campaign.
Smith has been in office for more than three decades but has not held a Townhall to address the concerns of his constituents since 1993. He is up for re-election in 2020.