The RIHCA Bill Dead...for now

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Photo: Facebook page of The Women’s Project

The Controversial RIHCA bill has been defeated in the Senate Judiciary Committee today with a 5-4 vote on Senate a bill 2019-S152 Sub A.

Senate Judiciary Chair, Erin Lynch Prata started the meeting urging calmness and stressing that there be no outbursts or removal from the committee room would be imminent. Senators seemed poised and all stated their reasons for their votes.

Senator Harold Metts stated “For me it’s an ethics and spiritual issue. God is the creator, and creation is supposed to worship the creator, not the reverse... and all children that are conceived are my neighbor...therefore I will be voting against the bill.”

Senator Dawn Euer, expressed her support saying .... “this bill protects the status quo in Rhode Island, nothing more...the time to act is now...”

Senator Frank Lombardi stated, “I will be voting no…for three reasons.” He specifically went on to quote verses from the original Roe Vs. Wade bill that has been in existence for the past 47 years. He also stated his reasons for not voting for the bill, saying the urgency issue is non apparent and that he “respectfully cannot accept that the Supreme Court will just simply overturn Roe vs. Wade. Lombardi also said the Senate bill is not simply a codification of Roe vs. Wade, but goes beyond the present statue of law, and he was troubled by language under the definition of health and termination of a pregnancy after the eight month.

The deciding “no” vote came from Senator Steven Archambault, who said, “I am pro-choice. I support a woman’s right to choose... I’m troubled over language in this bill…I don’t think the safeguards in this bill are adequate” and “Sponsors were unwilling to compromise on this bill.”

Archambault who has proposed his own bill to codify Rose Vs. Wade, said sponsors wanted no compromises.

The votes were as follows...

Senator Steven Archambault...NO

Senator Jessica De La Cruz...NO

Senator Harold Metts…NO

Senator Frank Lombardi…NO

Senator Leonidas Raptakis…NO

Senator Dawn Euer...YES

Chairwoman Erin Lynch Prata...YES

Senator Mark McKenny...YES

Senator Cynthia Coyne…YES

The hearing ended with Chairwoman Erin Lynch Prata thanking the sponsors and advocates who she said worked tirelessly on the bill.

“The reality is this issue is not going away...we need to work together to find a solution. Lynch Prata expressed disappointment and said “The bill was amended in the House and sent to the Senate. We received a bill and we were it now. No amendments.” 

Interesting, the House Bill was held for further study which means it could be worked in and voted in at a later date.

As the committee left the room, you could hear loud chanting from the corridor. Both sides of the issue were there in full force.

Senator Steven Archambault, who voted no and who many believed was the deciding vote posted his reasons on his Facebook page on Monday.

Archambault was under severe pressure from both sides. The Hand Maids were outside his home in Smithfield early Tuesday Morning protesting.

He posted on Facebook as follows....

Statement of Senator Steve Archambault on Putting Forward His Own Legislation to Codify Roe v. Wade:

"As someone who believes in a woman’s right to choose and who thinks it is important to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade into state law given the current composition of the US Supreme Court, I am putting forward my own legislation that does just that. I do so because the legislation before us, S 152A, in its present form goes well beyond Roe v. Wade as currently interpreted by the US Supreme Court, and there has been no willingness by the sponsors to reach a principled compromise.

While I am pro-choice, I do believe in reasonable restrictions on abortions, once a pregnancy moves beyond viability. Simply put, viability means when a fetus is so close to fully formed that it is likely to be able to survive outside the womb -- if born.   Reasonable restrictions are permissible under Roe v. Wade as currently interpreted by the US Supreme Court.

S152A, contrary to the claims of its sponsor, goes well beyond codifying Roe v. Wade and wipes out laws on the books that are clearly permissible under Roe v. Wade as currently interpreted, without replacing them with any new safeguards. I cannot support post-viability abortions that are based on undefined "health" reasons and would permit very late term, up to date of birth, abortions. It simply goes too far.

My legislation, which I hope to offer as an amendment tomorrow, codifies Roe and protects women’s rights, but it also provides common sense safeguards post-viability, limiting late term abortions. It is available for review tonight on my Facebook page and I will distribute it in tomorrow’s Committee hearing.

I reject the all or nothing mind-set that essentially says, ‘its post-viability, late term abortions or nothing at all.’ I respectfully submit that my legislation points the way to a principled compromise that reflects the views of most Rhode Islanders.  But I have no pride of authorship, I will support any legislation that straightforwardly codifies Roe v. Wade.”


Stay tuned.! This is not over yet! The legislative session usually doesn’t adjourn till late June. Anything can happen!

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