The United States Capitol Building

With concerns that the current administration in Washington may prompt consideration in the U.S. Supreme Court of efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade, a bill has been introduced in the Rhode Island General Assembly that would protect a woman’s right to choose.

The legislation, introduced in the Rhode Island Senate and House of Representatives, seeks to overturn current legislation that has helped Rhode Island win the label as among the states with the most restrictive abortion legislation.

It would essentially make Roe v. Wade the law in Rhode Island, serving to protect a woman’s right to choose in the event the U.S. Supreme Court revokes it.

“We have a president who is anti-choice, no friend of women and has demonstrated a reckless disregard of the Constitution,” said Rep. Edith Ajello of Providence, a primary sponsor of the Reproductive Health Care Act. “We have anti-choice leaders in both chambers of Congress, and a Supreme Court whose balance could help the other two branches destroy the protections provided by Roe v. Wade.”

The legislation, which has been introduced in previous years, is expected to face steep opposition from Right to Life groups and the Catholic Church.

Pro-life groups have endorsed and contributed financially to the state’s Democratic legislative leaders in the past, while Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups have helped finance Progressive Democrats.

Each year that Progressive wing seems to grow, making it more likely of eventual passage of the legislation. An important shift happened in last year’s special state Senate election in Newport to replace former Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, who left the legislature to become executive director of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island. Paiva Weed had been endorsed by Right to Life.

Dawn Euer, a progressive, won in a hotly contested primary in which she defeated the incumbent and two other well-known candidates. She then won in a special general election. Euer ran with the support of Planned Parenthood.

The legislation, introduced by Providence Representative Ajello and Senator Gayle Goldin, also of Providence, would eliminate several chapters that make it a criminal offense to perform an abortion or help a woman obtain one. It would also eliminate a law enacted in 1973 following the Roe v. Wade decision that defines human life as commencing at conception.

“Unless we erase these unconstitutional laws, it is feasible that the women of Rhode Island could be knocked back a half-century to the days of secret, dangerous back-room abortions,” Ajello said. “This isn’t symbolic. It’s necessary to protect women’s lives and rights.”

“Regardless of what these statutes say, control of our own bodies and health have been the law in the United States and Rhode Island for 45 years,” Goldin said. “For the entire time, our state has lacked the political will to repeal these unconstitutional laws, and that inaction is now putting the health and rights of Rhode Island women at genuine risk. Women deserve better from the leaders of our state. Rhode Island must affirm, once and for all, that a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body is protected in our state before the federal government stops doing it for us.”

According to a press release issued by the Rhode Island General Assembly’s legislative press office, Pew Research found that Rhode Islanders favor legal abortion by a two to one margin. The press release also notes that NARAL Pro Choice America rates Rhode Island as having the most restrictive abortion laws in New England.

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.