Committee hears testimony on abortion bills

photo by Tessa Roy, WPRO News

By WPRO News

More than 300 people were signed up to testify at a heated and at times personal House Judiciary hearing on a number of abortion bills.

The Reproductive Health Care Act (RHCA) and the similar but less popular Reproductive Privacy Act were up for discussion. Three anti abortion bills, including the Rhode Island “unborn child protection from dismemberment Act,” the Rhode Island Right to Life Act, and a “house resolution recognizing the fetus as a human life upon the existence of a heartbeat” were also on the agenda.

“We need to come together, both pro choice people and pro life people and come up with better solutions, better ideas on health care, how we can provide for an unwanted child or an unwanted pregnancy,” said Representative James McLaughlin, who sponsored two of the pro-life bills on being heard.

Supporters of the RHCA, which would codify abortion rights granted by Roe vs. Wade, held signs touting a 71% support rate for the bill, but many from the pro-life crowd spoke out against it.

“The Reproductive Health Act will cause the State of Rhode Island to fail, fail to protect the lives of its youngest and most vulnerable human beings in this state,” said Dr. Sheila Kuzmic.

The bill still saw a fair amount of support.

“While it has been more than 15 years since the ACLU has been forced to challenge a Rhode Island law on reproductive rights, here we are again, this time to strongly urge that those hard earned protections are reserved and not eroded by forces coalescing at the federal level,” said Faye Dion of the ACLU.

In addition, former legislator Linda Kushner shared her own story of nearly dying after getting an illegal abortion in 1960.

“We are dealing with the problem of young, not just young, any woman, dying from an illegal abortion, and I don’t want any woman to ever have to undergo what I went through and I don’t want any mother, or father for that matter, of any pregnant person to ever have to go through the anguish, and anxiety and fear that my parents, particularly my mother went through,” she said.