State Senator Stephen Archambault (D-Smithfield), who has been considered to be the ‘swing vote’ on the pending abortion rights bill, announced Monday night that he would vote against the bill at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday evening. Archambault says he is planning to propose an amendment to the abortion legislation that he says will make it a ‘stricter codification of Roe v. Wade.’
“While I am pro-choice, I do believe in reasonable restrictions on abortions, once a pregnancy moves beyond viability,” Archambault said in a statement posted on his Facebook page Monday night. “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 U.S. Supreme Court.”
The Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Freedom, a group that has been lobbying in favor of passing the bill, released a statement Monday night saying that Archambault’s announcement was a “last-minute stunt” designed to “circumvent the democratic process.”
“We call on Senator Archambault, who claims to be pro-choice, to allow the democratic process to process and to vote to send this bill to the Senate floor for a full debate and vote by the entire membership.”
Archambault’s decision could potentially kill the legislation, since the other eight members of the committee are believed to be split 4-4.
The Womxn Project picketed Archambault’s home Tuesday morning dressed as handmaidens from The Handmaidens’ Tale” with the message that his proposed amendment is ‘NOT pro-choice.”
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
The bill up for a vote Tuesday would allow an abortion up to “fetal viability,” with exceptions made for the life or health of the mother. The bill also affirms the existing federal ban on “partial-birth” abortions.
Archambault’s amendment is more specific, saying a late term abortion would be allowed “if a continuation of the pregnancy will impose on the individual a substantial risk of grave impairment to their physical or mental health.”