Senator Stephen Archambault (Democrat, District 22, Smithfield, Johnston, North Providence) just disrupted, in a major way, any potential for the Senate Judiciary Committee to pass the Reproductive Health Care Act onto the full Senate floor this afternoon. Archambault, caving to lies and misinformation being spread by anti-abortion groups, says he will be introducing an amendment that will prevent post-viability abortions.
Th bills sponsor, Senator Gayle Goldin (Democrat, District 3, Providence) is on record saying that she will not accept any amendments or compromises on her bill. Reproductive rights groups are also calling for the passage of a “clean” version of the bill, that is, no amendments and no language that does anything but fully protect a woman’s right to choose.
This is a major change in Archambault’s position, as during his campaign Archambault said that, “It is imperative that the General Assembly move expeditiously to pass the Reproductive Health Care Act when the new session begins in January.”
In a statement posted to his Facebook page last night, Archambault wrote:
“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.”
Reactions were quick. The Womxn Project protested outside Archambault’s home this morning, dressed as Handmaids:
We were outside .@SenArchambault’s house this morning to say,”Your amendment is NOT pro-choice.” Lawmakers don’t get to say they support Roe and then play political games with our rights. #Repro4RI #passtheRHCA #passtheRPA pic.twitter.com/nzlaFg1NYU— The Womxn Project (@WomanProjectHQ) May 14, 2019
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Amanda Skinner, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Votes! Rhode Island, responded to Archambault’s announcement, saying that the Senator, “continues to propagate misinformation aimed at manipulating people and fomenting fear.”
“As the vile attacks on reproductive rights escalate across the nation, Rhode Island is poised to set an example by protecting an individual’s right to control their own body and their own future. Unfortunately, Senator Stephen Archambault has decided the lies and distortions of those who seek to ban safe, legal abortion will give him cover to have it both ways. In putting forward his alternative bill, Senator Archambault continues to propagate misinformation aimed at manipulating people and fomenting fear.
“Abortion care later in pregnancy is extremely rare and women and their families in these situations often face devastating decisions. They deserve compassion and support – and certainly not politicians telling them what to do or attempting to imprison their physicians. How dare Senator Archambault think he knows better than women and their doctors when it comes to their own decisions and lives?
“This alternate bill demonstrates a clear mistrust of women. Let me be clear – you cannot call yourself pro-choice while supporting a bill that insults the dignity of women, criminalizes abortion providers, retains unconstitutional restrictions on the law books, and undermines the basic legal foundations that protect safe, legal abortion. We urge all Senators – especially those on the Judiciary Committee – to support The Reproductive Health Care Act (S 152A) and reject legislation based on the same manipulative and misogynistic lies of President Trump.”
The Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Freedom issued a statement that they are “stunned.” They write that Archambault is trying to “circumvent the democratic process with this last minute stunt.”
“The Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Freedom, and our partner organizations, are stunned to read the comments released by Senator Archambault about his interpretation of Senator Goldin’s bill S152A. It is clear that he is falling for the gross-misinformation campaign that opponents have been spreading for months. The Reproductive Health Care Act is the result of years of collaboration between lawmakers, community groups and the Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Freedom. It clearly upholds the status quo and ensures that a pregnant person can access safe, legal abortion, in consultation with her doctor, up to fetal viability.
“Senator Archambault is clearly trying to circumvent the democratic process with this last minute stunt. 71 percent of Rhode Island voters indicate they want Rhode Island to protect access to safe, legal abortion — and they are counting on the RI State Senate to pass the Reproductive Health Care Act, as the House did two months ago with their version of the bill. Senator Archambault’s actions tonight show he is trying to prevent this bill from being debated and voted on by the full chamber — as was the stated intent by Senate President Dominick Ruggerio. We call on Senator Archambault, who claims to be pro-choice, to allow the democratic process to proceed and to vote to send this bill to the Senate floor for a full debate and vote by the entire membership.
“Rhode Islanders do not want to wait any longer for their rights to be protected. The Senate can do the right thing. The time is now.”
Archambault’s Democratic challenger in the last election, Melanie DuPont, suggested that Archambault does not represent voters in his district, tweeting, “Now you know why I ran to unseat Senator Archambault in 2018: he represents himself.”
Check out the front page of today’s @projo.— Melanie DuPont for State Senate (@MelForRI) May 14, 2019
Now you know why I ran to unseat Senator Archambault in 2018: he represents himself.
I will represent US.
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