Rhode Island Senate Will Vote Wednesday on Bill Legalizing Abortions Up to Birth

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jun 18, 2019   |   5:27PM   |   Providence, Rhode Island

Ignoring protests and strong voter opposition, Rhode Island lawmakers plan to move forward Wednesday with a vote to legalize abortions up to birth in their state.

Pro-life leaders said the full Senate plans to vote Wednesday, and voters need to contact their state senators immediately. If the bill passes, it would allow late-term abortions on viable unborn babies, including partial-birth and dismemberment abortions. Recent amendments appear to provide some limits on late-term abortions but still allow them for the “health” of the mother, a term so broadly defined that basically any situation could qualify.

Barth Bracy, executive director of the Rhode Island Right to Life Committee, described the legislation as a “New York-style abortion expansion bill.”

Democrats have been accused of playing political games to push the legislation. In May, a state Senate committee narrowly defeated the pro-abortion bill, but many suspected that abortion activists would push lawmakers to resurrect it.

Last week, they transferred the bill to a different committee – an unprecedented move — which passed it by an overwhelming majority. A Democratic lawmaker who describes herself as pro-life voted in favor of the bill, The Providence Journal reports. State Sen. Elizabeth Crowley said she is pro-life, but she believes the full state Senate should vote on the bill.

Rhode Island Right to Life accused state lawmakers of betraying voters by pushing the bill. In an email to supporters, the organization urged voters to contact their senators:

It has become absolutely clear that House and Senate Leadership are stubbornly determined to push this bill through. For reasons not yet fully known or revealed, they are tenaciously “whipping” those who would otherwise vote against the bill. And they are violating their own rules as well as the assurances and representations they have made to constituents, to fellow lawmakers, and to me and my predecessors. A treacherous madness and bloodlust has descended upon both legislative chambers with former “friends” now nearly snarling when asked to honor their pro-life representations.

There is still time to intervene with your state Representative and state Senator, and I ask you now to do it in a very direct and clear voice, in the language most of them understand best, namely, that if they oppose this extreme abortion bill, you will support them, and if they do not oppose this extreme abortion bill, then you will vigorously oppose them, in every primary, in every general election, and in every lawful manner possible with your time and treasure and talents… in 2020, in 2022, in 2024, in 2026, in 2028, and beyond… you will not forget… and you will recruit others to join you.

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The pro-life organization warned that if the bill passes the state Senate, it likely will become law. The state House approved an earlier version of the legislation in March, and Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo supports it.

Earlier this month, Democratic lawmakers amended the bill to address concerns by some wavering politicians. The bill still repeals the state fetal homicide law, but the newly amended version includes language creating a new felony assault category that allows charges against an individual whose assault on a pregnant woman results in the “termination of a pregnancy,” according to the local news.

Lawmakers also removed a section allowing an older sibling or grandparent to provide consent for an underage girl to have an abortion, rather than her parents, as is currently required by law.

“I cannot stress enough how this is not an expansion,” state Sen. Erin Lynch Prata said last week. “What we are looking to do is codify the status quo, which encompasses all of the case law.”

However, pro-life leaders said this is not true, and the amendments are “cosmetic.” 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.”

Most residents do not support the legislation. The pro-life organization pointed to a recent WPRI/RWU poll that showed “ the overwhelming majority of Rhode Islanders oppose what this legislation does.”

ACTION: Contact Rhode Island state senators.