Goldin, Ajello: R.I. must protect women’s rights from federal uncertainties
STATE HOUSE – This week marks the 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling, and Rep. Edith Ajello and Sen. Gayle Goldin are introducing legislation to finally wipe off Rhode Island’s books laws that contradict the abortion rights affirmed by the landmark case.
The sponsors say the bill is far more important than an effort to eliminate moot and contradictory chapters of law; it is critical to protecting the rights of women in Rhode Island at a time when they are threatened by leaders at the top of every branch of the federal government.
“We have a president who is anti-choice, no friend of women, and has demonstrated a reckless disregard for the Constitution. We have anti-choice leaders in both chambers of Congress, and a Supreme Court whose balance could help the other two branches destroy the protections provided by Roe v. Wade. Unless we erase these unconstitutional laws, it is feasible that the women of Rhode Island could be knocked back a half-century to the days of secret, dangerous back-room abortions. This isn’t symbolic. It’s necessary to protect women’s lives and rights,” said Representative Ajello (D-Dist. 1, Providence).
Said Senator Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence), “Regardless of what these statutes say, control of our own bodies and health have been the law in the United States and Rhode Island and for 45 years. For that entire time, our state has lacked the political will to repeal these unconstitutional laws, and that inaction is now putting the health and rights of Rhode Island women at genuine risk. Women deserve better from the leaders of our state. Rhode Island must affirm, once and for all, that a women’s right to make decisions about her own body is protected in our state, before the federal government stops doing that job for us.”
The legislation (2018-S 2163, 2018-H 7340), titled the Reproductive Health Care Act, would prohibit the state or any of its agencies from interfering with any individual’s reproductive health care, including a decision to terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability, or after that point in cases when necessary to preserve the woman’s health or life. It would eliminate several chapters that makes it a criminal offense to perform an abortion or help a woman obtain one, as well as a law enacted in 1973 following the Roe v. Wade decision that defines human life as commencing “at the instant of conception.” It would also eliminate laws requiring that the husband of any married woman is notified before she can terminate a pregnancy and prohibiting insurers from covering the procedure.
Senator Goldin and Representative Ajello also introduced similar legislation last year.
Pew Research Center polling has indicated that Rhode Islanders believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases by a 2-1 margin. Despite this public support, NARAL Pro-choice America lists Rhode Island as having the most restrictive abortion laws in New England. The agency ranks Rhode Island worse than even conservative states like Alaska and Montana, because their laws have more adequate protections of women’s right to choose.
Cosponsors include Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham), Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), Sen. Jeanine Calkin (D-Dist. 30, Warwick), and Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence).
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903