Will Rhode Island follow New York in legalizing abortion up to birth, for any reason?

Pro-life and pro-choice supporters square off in an argument during a demonstration marking the anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision in Washington, January 24, 2011. | (Photo: REUTERS/Jim Young)

State legislators in Rhode Island have introduced a pair of bills to legalize abortion up to the moment of birth, echoing a new law in New York.

Reportedly stoked by fears that the U.S. Supreme Court will soon reverse the landmark 1973 decision Roe v. Wade, rallies for and against the proposed legislation were held in Providence this week.

State Representative Edith Ajello of Providence, who introduced the Reproductive Health Care Act earlier this month, said in a statement that she had an “illegal abortion” in 1965 and did not want to return to that time.

“I was extraordinarily lucky in those times to have been referred to a real doctor in a coal mining town in Pennsylvania for a safe abortion. Too many women back then were not so lucky,” said Ajello.

“It is clear that Roe is in real danger with the U.S. Supreme Court changes and as this president has promised to strip away our reproductive rights.”

State Senator Gayle Goldin has introduced a matching bill, with Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo having expressed her support for the legislation on social media.

On Tuesday, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the New York state Legislature passed a bill Tuesday making it legal for doctors and other health care professionals, such as midwives and physician assistants, to perform abortions up to birth for any reason.

Known as the Reproductive Health Act, passed with a 38-28 vote in the state Senate chamber, the bill codified federal abortion rights guaranteed under Roe v. Wade and removed abortion from the state's criminal code.

“… an abortion May be performed by a licensed, certified, or authorized practitioner within 24 weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or at any time when necessary to protect a patient's life or health,” read section 2 of New York’s act.

New York's Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law, prompting the Most Rev. Edward B. Scharfenberger, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Albany, to question the elected official's faith.

“Your advocacy of extreme abortion legislation is completely contrary to the teachings of our pope and our Church. Once truth is separated from fiction and people come to realize the impact of the bill, they will be shocked to their core,” wrote Bishop Scharfenberger in an open letter to Cuomo.

“By that time, however, it may be too late to save the countless lives that will be lost or spare countless women lifelong regret.”

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