The Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Freedom rejects claims by anti-choice activists which characterize the Reproductive Health Care Act of 2019 (RHCA) as “extreme.” The Coalition also refutes the results of a recent poll paid for by “Citizens for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” an initiative led by the Gaspee Project. The questions asked in this poll are biased and misleading, and did not ask about maintaining the status-quo afforded under Roe v Wade.

The RHCA, following the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe and subsequent cases, including Planned Parenthood v Casey, protects the right to safe, legal abortion up to fetal viability. The definition of fetal viability in the RHCA is based on the language in Roe v Wade and affirmed in subsequent cases. Currently, an abortion can only be performed after fetal viability in cases where the life or health of the pregnant person is in jeopardy. The need for an abortion later in pregnancy would be determined by a physician and is a complicated, medical decision where a physician needs to be able to consider all options to provide quality medical care for the pregnant person including induction, c-section, and abortion. Abortion later in pregnancy is extremely rare. Nearly all abortions—almost 99 percent—occur before the 20th week of gestation and that number drops significantly the further along a pregnancy progresses.

Abortion opponents falsely claim that the RHCA would overturn established Rhode Island laws such as RIGL § 11-9-18 which provides for felony charges against any licensed medical professional who fails to provide care for a baby born alive in an ‘attempted abortion’; RIGL § 23-4.7 which requires informed consent from patients and parental consent for minors; and § 23-13-21, which prohibits Medicaid coverage for abortion beyond cases of rape, incest, or to save the life or health of the pregnant person.

“Our opponents are describing dangers that do not exist in the RHCA. Unfortunately, we know all too well the dangers that existed in pre-Roe Rhode Island and the United States. Desperate women died. We cannot return to those times. With a range of abortion cases in the Supreme Court pipeline — we must act now to pass the Reproductive Health Care Act,” said Kelly Nevins, Executive Director of The Women’s Fund of Rhode Island.

The Coalition calls on the General Assembly to pass the Reproductive Health Care Act (H5127/S152) which codifies Roe v Wade and subsequent United States Supreme Court decisions into Rhode Island statute and removes laws that are still on the books in Rhode Island despite being declared unconstitutional and unenforceable. ###

The Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Freedom (RICRF) is a coalition of organizations, working together to share resources, build strategies and coordinate efforts to connect reproductive freedom with social and economic justice. RICRF protects and advances access to reproductive health care through advocacy and legislative action.American Civil Liberties Union of RI American Congress of Obstetricians, RI Chapter Catholics for Choice The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health Hope and Change for Haiti Humanists of Rhode Island Indivisible RI League of Women Voters, RI Medical Students for Choice National Council of Jewish Women, RI Chapter Planned Parenthood of Southern New England Rhode Island Working Families Party RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence RI Democratic Women for Leadership RI National Association of Social Workers RI National Organization for Women RI Religious Coalition for Reproductive Freedom The Woman Project Women’s Health and Education Fund Women’s Fund of Rhode Island