PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Pro-choice and pro-life activists took to Smith Hill again on Tuesday as lawmakers continue to debate the future of an abortion-related bill.
Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted down a hotly-debated bill that would codify a woman’s right to an abortion into state law. Advocates say it would protect the rights afforded under Roe V. Wade, but opponents suggest it would not do enough to restrict late-term abortions.
An identical bill, however, remains in play, as lawmakers work behind-the-scenes to determine if an amended version will emerge from the committee.
Early in the afternoon on Tuesday, a crowd of people stood on Smith Street displaying signs that read “Protect safe, legal abortion,” and “Stop demonizing pregnant women.” The event was part of NARAL Pro-Choice America’s “Day of Action for Abortion Rights.”
Brianna Filippi organized the Providence rally, saying she believes what’s unfolding in states like Alabama could happen elsewhere.
“Just because we are a blue state, or just because we have a Democratic governor, it doesn’t mean that this is not happening here,” she said. “And I think it’s very important that we see that the things that are happening in the south could very quickly become what’s happening in the north.”
A few hours later inside the State House rotunda, a pro-life group gathered holding signs with messages like “Standing strong for life” and “Late term abortion is infanticide.”
“The bill that they’re trying to pass, it’s opening up the gates of hell, actually,” said Christin Cronan.
At Tuesday’s rally, pro-life advocates said they worried the bill as written does little to protect unborn children and their mothers. Others questioned the timing of the push to pass the legislation.
“I don’t see the need for any of this right now,” said Holly Taylor Coolman. “I think that the pressure to push through some law any law is confusing to me and mysterious where is that pressure coming from?”
Last week, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said legislators would work behind the scenes on a compromise starting this week. As of Tuesday afternoon, it was unclear whether those conversations have begun.