A Rhode Island House committee spent hours Tuesday listening to pro-life and abortion advocates speak out about a bill to legalize abortion for basically any reason up to birth.
The Reproductive Health Care Act, co-sponsored by state Sen. Gayle L. Goldin and Rep. Edith H. Ajello, would strip away even minor, common-sense abortion regulations – ones that a strong majority of Americans support. It would eliminate all protections for unborn babies and codify Roe v. Wade into state law in case the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the ruling.
The committee, flooded with more than 300 testimonies from politicians and the public, did not vote on the bill Tuesday night, WPRI News reports.
Pro-life advocates spoke passionately about the unborn children whose lives will be at risk if the bill passes.
“The Reproductive Health Act will cause the State of Rhode Island to fail, fail to protect the lives of its youngest and most vulnerable human beings in this state,” Dr. Sheila Kuzmic told the committee, according to WPRO 630.
While the bill appears to allow restrictions for late-term abortions, it adds a broad “health” exception for abortions after viability. The exception would allow women to abort unborn babies up to nine months of pregnancy for basically any “health” reason, including “age, economic, social and emotional factors,” a definition given by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Doe v. Bolton.
It also would repeal the state partial-birth abortion ban and fetal homicide law, which provides justice to pregnant mothers whose unborn babies are killed by abusive partners, drunken drivers or others whose illegal actions cause the death of the unborn baby.
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State Rep. James McLaughlin, who sponsored two pro-life bills this session, urged lawmakers to promote better options than abortion.
“We need to come together, both pro-choice people and pro-life people and come up with better solutions, better ideas on health care, how we can provide for an unwanted child or an unwanted pregnancy,” he said.
But abortion supporters lobbied hard for the bill, including Gov. Gina Raimondo, who says she is Catholic.
“While we all share the goal of reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortions, the right way to achieve this is through education and access to healthcare and contraception — not by criminalizing women’s reproductive healthcare decisions,” Raimondo said in written testimony to the committee.
This, however, does not match with what the nation’s largest abortion provider and many abortion activists now are saying. They no longer speak about reducing abortions or making them rare. Planned Parenthood CEO Leana Wen recently admitted openly that providing and expanding abortions is her group’s “core mission.”
The Providence Journal reports more on the testimonies:
Dr. Doreen Ciancaglini, of North Providence, said, “It is a scientific fact that the fetal heart begins beating at three weeks of life. That’s 22 days … What is driving the need to make abortion even more common?” …
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza came with his fiancée, Stephanie Gonzalez, and their seven-month-old baby to warn the lawmakers what will happen if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
“What does it mean for the most vulnerable here in Providence if they don’t have access,” Elorza said. “The reality is that abortions will not stop. Instead what you’ll have is resorting to the very harrowing practices of using coat hangers and other unsafe, unhealthy methods to terminate pregnancies.”
Added Gonsalves: “Seven months ago, I gave birth to a little human … I was very lucky though. I was not living in poverty. I had access to health insurance. I felt comfortable where I was professionally. I wasn’t a victim of inter-relationship rape or abuse. I had a supportive partner. I didn’t have to worry about paying for child care…. Had my circumstances been different, I don’t know that I would have made the same choice.”
“What bothers me most about the anti-abortion argument is that we seem to assume … that women just can’t be trusted to make decisions for themselves and their bodies and therefore we must legislate for them…. This is sexist … insulting.”
If the bill passes, America could see abortion rates rise after a steady decline for decades. Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a similar pro-abortion bill, legalizing abortion for basically any reason up to birth. The Vermont and New Mexico legislatures are considering very similar legislation this winter.