Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Catholic, signed a bill Wednesday that legalizes abortion up to the birth, sparking outrage among pro-life lawmakers and activists.
The bill codifies federal abortion rights guaranteed under the 1973 Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision and stipulates that "Neither the state, or any of its agencies, or political subdivisions shall restrict an individual person from preventing, commencing, continuing, or terminating that individual's pregnancy prior to fetal viability."
Raimondo, a professing Catholic, signed the bill into law shortly after it was approved by the General Assembly, declaring that it was the “right thing to do.” The state Senate voted for the measure, 21-17. All five Republican senators voted against the measure along with 12 Democrats.
"When this bill becomes law, women and their families across Rhode Island will be free from the fear that the reproductive health care they need today will be illegal tomorrow,” Raimundo said in a statement. “We owe this certainty to every Rhode Island woman — and the bill before me today provides exactly that.”
Republican senators tried to amend the bill, but Democrats blocked their proposals, the AP reports. The rejected amendments included a provision that triggered the bill only if Roe v. Wade is repealed, and one requiring the administering of anesthesia to unborn babies before ending their lives.
Republican Sen. Elaine Morgan expressed dismay that some of the amendments didn’t pass, stating, “We have to go out of the country to adopt a baby. We don’t have enough babies in this country because we’re killing them all and now we’re allowing it to happen almost to birth.”
The passing of the Reproductive Privacy Act was widely condemned by pro-life advocates and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
Democrat Sen. Frank Lombardo urged members of his party to vote against the bill, reminding them that "we are all children of God and I tell you, we will all be accountable to God for the position of influence that He has given to all of us,” the Providence Journal reports.
And Democrat Sen. Harold Metts, a Baptist deacon from Providence, said he would never vote for an “ungodly” abortion-rights bill because “we are made in God’s image,” the AP notes.
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser told LifeNews she was disappointed to see Rhode Island lawmakers “cave to pressure from the abortion lobby to pass this radical bill.”
“More than three in four Ocean State voters — Democrats, Independents, women, and a strong majority of self-described pro-choice voters — agree expanding late-term abortions is too extreme,” she added. “Rhode Islanders should not be fooled by the smokescreen of ‘compromise’: this law expands abortion on demand through the moment of birth.”
According to a poll conducted in April and May by the Susan B. Anthony List, a strong majority of Rhode Island voters (73%) opposed allowing abortion up until birth. When told that the legislature was considering a bill that would allow abortions up until birth for any reason, 77% of Rhode Island voters said they would oppose such a law.
Additionally, a recent WPRI/RWU poll showed that “the overwhelming majority of Rhode Islanders oppose what this legislation does, which is to allow abortion beyond viability and even until the moment of live birth.”
The Rhode Island bill follows similar legal efforts in New York, Virginia, and Illinois.
The New York bill, signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, both decriminalized abortion and allowed abortion after 24 weeks if necessary to protect the mother's health.
Because "health" is a nebulous and broadly-defined term, pro-life advocates have argued that abortions would be allowed at any point in the pregnancy for essentially any reason.