Rhode Island House Passes Bill Legalizing Abortion Up to Birth, Funding Free Abortions

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 8, 2019   |   10:41AM   |   Providence, Rhode Island

Rhode Island House lawmakers passed a radical pro-abortion bill late Thursday night that would legalize abortions for basically any reason up to birth.

The pro-abortion bill passed in a 44-30 vote, and now awaits action by the state Senate.

State Senate Bill 152 is similar to the new abortion law in New York. It would allow abortions for basically any reason up to birth, even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, and strike down modest abortion restrictions in the state.

The Brown Daily Herald reports lawmakers spent four hours debating the bill before they voted.

Pro-life lawmakers introduced a number of amendments to protect unborn babies and mothers in at least some circumstances, but none passed. According to the report, they included a 24-hour waiting period between the time the woman receives information about the abortion and has the procedure.

State Rep. Arthur Corvese said the waiting period would be like the state law that requires people to wait seven days to buy a firearm. However, state Rep. Anastasia Williams, the sponsor of the bill, criticized the amendment, saying, “I am not to be compared to a firearm,” according to the report.

WPRI reports the House lawmakers also rejected amendments that would have criminalized non-abortion fetal homicide, delayed the bill from taking effect until if Roe v. Wade is overturned, and prohibited discriminatory abortions based on an unborn baby’s sex, gender or disability such as Down syndrome.

Pro-abortion lawmakers, the ACLU and other pro-abortion groups claim the bill merely codifies Roe v. Wade in the state in the event that the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the case.

However, pro-life leaders said this is misleading. A legal analysis of the bill provided by Rhode Island Right to Life states: “… it is ‘a gross distortion and blatant misrepresentation’ to claim that this ‘slightly revised’ version of the original bill would merely codify the principles of Roe v. Wade. … [The legislation] remains an extreme abortion bill, like its counterparts in New York and Virginia.”

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After the vote, Barth Bracy, executive director of Rhode Island Right to Life, mourned the passage of the abortion expansion.

The organization retracted its endorsements of Democratic state Reps. John “Jay” Edwards, John Lombardi, Nicholas Mattiello, Daniel McKiernan, Joseph Skekarchi and Scott Slater for their roles in the bill’s passage.

“We commiserate with the pro-life voters in Cranston, Tiverton, Providence, and Warwick who voted for Edwards, Lombardi, Mattiello, McKiernan, Shekarchi, and Slater, respectively, based in whole or in part on our endorsements,” Bracy said.

The Rhode Island Catholic Conference, which also has been working hard to stop the bill, said it hopes state Senators “will reflect a deeper respect for innocent life than we saw today,” the AP reports.

The abortion giant Planned Parenthood also targeted the state Senate in its statement praising the House vote.

“Thank you to all co-sponsors of the Reproductive Privacy Act, the lawmakers who voted yes, and the countless of activists and volunteers who worked tirelessly for this bill to pass! We did it! Senate, we are coming for you!” the abortion group wrote on Twitter.

The bill appears to allow restrictions for late-term abortions, but 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.

According to the legal analysis, the bill would:

  • Eliminate any constitutional restrictions on late-term abortions
  • Eliminate any constitutional restrictions on methods of abortion
  • Undermine the authority of the State and the Department of Health from enacting and adopting constitutional restrictions on the performance of abortions at facilities where abortions are performed
  • Require the State to pay for all abortions sought by Medicaid-eligible pregnant women and women covered by the “payer of last Resort” program
  • Substantially “water down” the State’s parental consent statute by allowing consent to be obtained from persons who have no constitutional right to give consent (grandparents and adult siblings).

State lawmakers also are considering a second pro-abortion bill, state House Bill 5127, which is similar to the pro-abortion bill before the House on Thursday. Gov. Gina Raimondo, who claims to be Catholic, supports the legislation.

If either bill passes, America could see abortion rates rise after a steady decline for decades. Both are similar to a New York law that Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed in January, legalizing abortion for basically any reason up to birth. The Vermont, Massachusetts and New Mexico legislatures also are considering bills this winter to expand late-term abortions.

Rhode Island Right to Life, state Catholic leaders and Republicans are urging pro-lifers to keep voicing their opposition to the legislation.

ACTION: Contact Rhode Island state lawmakers and urge opposition to the abortion bills.