Abortion rights bill stalls in Rhode Island Senate committee

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A bill to preserve federal abortion protections in state law has failed to advance past a key Senate committee in Rhode Island.

The members of the Senate Judiciary Committee defeated the Senate version of the bill 5-4 Tuesday.

The committee voted to hold the House version of the bill for further study and could act on it in the future.

Senators who opposed the bill said they fear it goes beyond a strict codification of Roe v. Wade and it’s not urgent to act now.

Senators who supported the bill said the national landscape is changing and Rhode Island should codify Roe v. Wade in case it’s overturned.

Loud chants from people on both sides of the issue could be heard as the senators shared their views.


Following the vote, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio issued the following statement:

“I have been consistent in my position that, while I am pro-life, I would not impose my personal views on the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee or in any way seek to prevent the legislation from passing. I did not interfere with the committee review process or attempt to change anyone’s vote on the issue.

“Mindful of the concerns of the proponents of the legislation, I ensured that my legal staff was available to work with committee members in a good faith effort to arrive at language that might win the support of the committee. The legal staff worked throughout the session, and throughout this past weekend, but ultimately a consensus could not be reached before the committee vote.

“It is clear that there is not sufficient support to pass the bill as it stands out of committee. By holding the House version of the bill for further study today, there is opportunity for further action. I ask all parties to continue working together to see if amended language can be developed that will pass committee and be brought to the floor.”

Bill sponsor Gayle Goldin issued the following statement following the vote:

“Tonight’s vote is obviously not the outcome that we wanted on reproductive rights in Rhode Island. I want to assure all of the incredible people who have worked to get bill S-152A heard that we will continue to entertain any avenue to pursue protection for the women of our state. We have worked collaboratively to get to this point, and our work is not done.”