A bill that would have expanded unlimited late-term abortion in Rhode Island failed in the state Senate Judiciary Committee this week.
S.B. 152, the Reproductive Health Act, styled after New York’s new law that allows abortion at any time during pregnancy, failed to make it out of the state Senate committee by a vote of 5-4, making it unlikely the Ocean State’s General Assembly will pass a bill to expand abortion during this legislative session.
“I think today’s vote puts it to bed for this session,” said Barth Bracy, the executive director of the Rhode Island Right to Life Committee, reported Catholic News Service (CNS).
Though supporters of Planned Parenthood erupted in anger over the vote and demanded state senators bring the bill to a floor vote before the entire chamber, Bracy said he doubts the success of this campaign.
“This bill was a brazen attempt to use fear, uncertainty and doubt to push an extreme abortion agenda,” he said. “Enough members of the Senate read the bill, read our legal analysis and understood that and were not bullied by a lying media.”
Bracy said many in the local media with sympathies toward the abortion rights supporters misrepresented the legislation to minimize its extreme nature.
A seven-page analysis on the legislation, written by attorney Paul Benjamin Linton, a lawyer who served as general counsel of Americans United for Life, said the bill would turn Rhode Island into “an abortion haven” where any unborn child could be killed up until the moment of birth, with the state given no recourse to restrict or regulate abortion facilities.
“To a large degree, what happened in New York woke up a lot of the people in Rhode Island,” Bracy said.
A poll released this month by the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) and Rhode Island Right to Life found that 73 percent of Rhode Island voters – including 63 percent of Democrats, 77 percent of independents, and 56 percent of those who label themselves “pro-choice” – oppose late-term abortions in general.
When told about the bill that would allow abortions up until birth for any reason, 77 percent of Rhode Island voters – including 69 percent of Democrats, 79 percent of Independents, 80 percent of women, and 62 percent of those who say they are “pro-choice” – opposed allowing abortions up until birth.
“We are pleased to see Rhode Island lawmakers vote against this radical bill, rather than go down the path of New York by expanding abortion on demand through birth,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “More than three in four Rhode Island voters – Democrats, Independents, women, and a strong majority of self-described pro-choice voters – agree this legislation is too extreme.”
Just prior to the state Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote, Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin took to Twitter to call upon the committee to reject the legislation.
In her testimony before the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee, attorney Catherine Glenn Foster, president of Americans United for Life, said the proposed legislation “expands abortion allowances beyond Roe v. Wade and its progeny, rejects the state’s legitimate interest in protecting life, and prohibits commonsense protections for women’s health.”
Foster explained the measure did not provide a definition of the word “health” in allowing abortion to preserve the woman’s “health.”
“The U.S. Supreme Court considers ‘health’ to include all factors, including ‘physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age’ for the purposes of post-viability abortions,” she said. “By failing to define or limit ‘health,’ the Act allows for abortion up to the moment of delivery of the child and effectively creates abortion on demand at any point in the pregnancy.”