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2/20/2017 McNamara, Bennett, Shanley respond to misinformation surrounding Reproductive Healthcare Act
STATE HOUSE — Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), along with Rep. David A. Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston) and Rep. Evan Patrick Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick) have released a joint statement in response to misinformation that is being disseminated regarding their support of the Reproductive Healthcare Act.

The bill (2017-H 5343) was introduced by Rep. Edith H. Ajello (D-Dist. 1, Providence) in response to worries that the 44-year-old Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade could conceivably be overturned in the future. If that were to happen, individual states would once again be responsible for laws regarding abortion. The legislation would codify the tenets of Roe vs. Wade into Rhode Island law.

“I’m concerned about the level of misinformation that’s out there regarding this bill,” said Representative McNamara, who serves as chairman of the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee. “I have received emails and seen printed materials that suggest the law would allow for unregulated and unrestricted abortion on demand. This is simply untrue. Rather, it would safeguard the concept that medical decisions are between a patient, her physician and her family. It also preserves the medical and legal concept of ‘fetal viability.’”

Representative Bennett, who also cosponsored the legislation, echoed those concerns, saying, “Roe vs. Wade has been the norm and the law for more than 40 years. It is a well-established precedent, and we want to ensure that it will continue being the law in Rhode Island, regardless of what happens in Washington. Claims that it would allow for unregulated and unrestricted abortions is nonsense, since it clearly states that abortions could not be performed after the point of fetal viability.”

Representative Shanley also pointed out that the legislation specifically preserves existing Rhode Island law regarding abortions: “I certainly appreciate the concerns of those who are alarmed by the false information they have heard about this bill. What I don’t appreciate is those who knowingly spread this misinformation in the first place. Claiming that this bill would radically change state law is untrue and irresponsible. It would not affect existing state law. It would not change the requirement of parental consent for minors, nor would it change anything related to the licensing of health care facilities.”

Representatives McNamara, Bennett and Shanley all said they would be happy to address the concerns of any constituents regarding the legislation. They also indicated that are open to changing the language in the bill to ensure that no one is able to misinterpret it.

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903