From a press release:
With the backing of more cosponsors than ever before, Representative Edith Ajello and Senator Gayle Goldin are introducing legislation to enshrine the reproductive health care rights protected by Roe v Wade to defend against threats at the federal level.
The Reproductive Health Care Act, which they also filed in 2017 and 2018, would codify the current state of the law on reproductive rights in Rhode Island set forth under the landmark Roe v Wade case, limiting restrictions on an individual’s right to terminate a pregnancy. It would also update and correct Rhode Island codification of its general laws by formally removing statutes and sections concerning reproductive rights that have been declared unconstitutional and unenforceable, but have never been removed.
Representative Ajello introduced the House legislation today, with a total of 39 sponsors. Senator Goldin expects to introduce hers tomorrow, and currently has a total of 17 sponsors.
With a conservative-leaning United States Supreme Court and a president and the leader of the United States Senate who are opposed to reproductive freedom, the two Providence legislators are pushing for passage of their bill to protect Rhode Islanders in the case of any federal rollback of rights.
“Numerous unconstitutional laws concerning women’s reproductive rights have not only remained on our books since Roe v Wade 46 years ago, but new ones have been added. Yet Rhode Islanders overwhelmingly support reproductive rights. Women deserve better. 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,” said Senator Goldin (Democrat, District 3, Providence), who was named deputy majority whip of the Senate during today’s session.
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Said Representative Ajello (Democrat, District 1, Providence), “These laws are not just harmless little ‘on-paper-only’ contradictions. The possibility that Roe v Wade will be overturned in the coming months or years is very real, and the result in Rhode Island would be that these harmful, insidious laws would become effective once again, with devastating impacts on women’s health. Nearly half a century of progress would be wiped away, and we would return to the days when women were forced to put their lives at risk in making personal reproductive health decisions.”
The legislation is identical to the bill they introduced during the 2018 session. 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 make 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.
A poll from the Providence Journal, the Public’s Radio and ABC 6 this fall found 71 percent of Rhode Islanders surveyed support the bill to protect abortion access. 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 make their own health care decisions.
Cosponsors include more than three-quarters of the female members of the House (20 of 26 female Representatives) and more than two-thirds of female Senators (11 of 16).
Legislators who are cosponsoring the legislation include:
- Representative Christopher Blazejewski (Democrat, District 2, Providence)
- Representative Julie Casimiro (Democrat, District 31, North Kingstown, Exeter)
- Representative Robert Craven (Democrat, District 32, North Kingstown)
- Representative Kathleen Fogarty (Democrat, District 35, South Kingstown)
- Representative Justine Caldwell (Democrat, District 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich)
- Representative Arthur Handy (Democrat, District 18, Cranston)
- Representative Jason Knight (Democrat, District 67, Barrington, Warren)
- Representative Marvin Abney (Democrat, District73, Newport, Middletown)
- Representative Charlene Lima (Democrat, District 14, Cranston, Providence)
- Representative Karen Alzate (Democrat, District 60, Pawtucket)
- Representative Terri Cortvriend (Democrat, District 72, Portsmouth, Middletown)
- Representative Joseph McNamara (Democrat, District 19, Warwick, Cranston)
- Representative Teresa Tanzi (Democrat, District 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett)
- Representative Lauren Carson (Democrat, District 75, Newport)
- Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (Democrat, District 5, Providence)
- Representative Dennis Canario (Democrat, District 71, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton)
- Representative Rebecca Kislak (Democrat, District 4, Providence)
- Representative Susan Donovan (Democrat, District 69, Bristol, Portsmouth)
- Representative Gregg Amore (Democrat, District 65, East Providence)
- Representative Moira Walsh (Democrat, District 3, Providence)
- Representative Evan Shanley (Democrat, District 24, Warwick)
- Representative Katherine Kazarian (Democrat, District 63, East Providence)
- Representative Jean Philippe Barros (Democrat, District 59, Pawtucket)
- Representative John Lyle Jr (Republican, District 46, Lincoln, Pawtucket)
- Representative Deborah Ruggiero (Democrat, District 74, Jamestown, Middletown)
- Representative Joseph Almeida (Democrat, District 12, Providence)
- Representative Anastasia Williams (Democrat, District 9, Providence)
- Representative Carol Hagan McEntee (Democrat, District 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett)
- Representative Liana Cassar (Democrat, District 66, Barrington, East Providence)
- Representative Mary Duffy Messier (Democrat, District 62, Pawtucket)
- Representative John Lombardi (Democrat, District 8, Providence)
- Representative David Bennett (Democrat, District 20, Warwick, Cranston)
- Representative Mario Mendez (Democrat, District 13, Johnston, Providence)
- Representative Carlos Tobon (Democrat, District 58, Pawtucket)
- Representative Jose Serodio (Democrat, District 64, East Providence)
- Representative Shelby Maldonado (Democrat, District 56, Central Falls)
- Representative Daniel McKiernan (Democrat, District 7, Providence)
- Representative Robert Jacquard (Democrat, District 17, Cranston)
- Senator Susan Sosnowski (Democrat, District 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham)
- Senator Erin Lynch Prata (Democrat, District 31, Warwick, Cranston)
- Senator Joshua Miller (Democrat, District 28, Cranston, Providence)
- Senator Cynthia Coyne (Democrat, District 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence)
- Senator James Seveney (Democrat, District 11, Portsmouth, Bristol, Tiverton)
- Senator Adam Satchell (Democrat, District 9, West Warwick)
- Senator Dawn Euer (Democrat, District 13, Newport, Jamestown)
- Senator Ryan Pearson (Democrat, District 19, Cumberland, Lincoln)
- Senator Donna Nesselbush (Democrat, District 15, Pawtucket, North Providence)
- Senator Ana Quezada (Democrat, District 2, Providence)
- Senator Sandra Cano (Democrat, District 8, Pawtucket)
- Senator Valarie Lawson (Democrat, District 14, East Providence)
- Senator Samuel Bell (Democrat, District 5, Providence)
- Senator Melissa Murray (Democrat, District 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield)
- Senator Bridget Valverde (Democrat, District 35, North Kingstown, South Kingstown, East Greenwich, Narragansett)
- Senator William Conley Jr (Democrat, District 18, East Providence, Pawtucket)