PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Hundreds of pro-life advocates converged on the Rhode Island State House Tuesday afternoon to protest pro-choice bills being considered.
Citizens for Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness (CLLPH) organized the pro-life “Day of Action” to come out against what the group called “radical New York-style abortion laws that are being proposed in Rhode Island.
CLLPH leaders said they were also going to present a petition signed by thousands of Rhode Islanders, who oppose the proposed abortion bills.
“Average Rhode Islanders are going to make our voices heard,” said CLLPH member Carey Jeffrey. “The citizens of this State do not want to legalize late-term abortions and expand abortion laws in Rhode Island.”
Two pro-choice bills have been submitted during this session.
The highest-profile bill, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Edith Ajello and co-sponsored by 39 of the 75 representatives, would codify abortion rights into law. The bill allows abortion up to the point of “fetal viability,” a determination that would be made by the woman’s doctor, but would allow exceptions for when the health or life of the mother is in jeopardy.
“All the law allows is what’s currently allowed in Rhode Island as a result of Roe v. Wade,” Ajello said.
“It’s clearly not a codification of Roe v. Wade,” President of Servants of Christ for Life Tyler Rowley argued. “That bill would be a lot simpler to write because that’s all you would have to say.”
The RHCA also repeals what the sponsors call “outdated” and “unconstitutional” Rhode Island laws, such as a requirement for spousal notification and a ban on so-called partial-birth abortion.
Democratic Rep. Anastasia Williams has introduced an alternative to the RHCA, dubbed the Reproductive Privacy Act, which is a more straightforward codification of abortion rights into Rhode Island law. However, her bill does not repeal the partial-birth abortion ban or another old Rhode Island law that banned abortion for a “quick child,” a term for a fetus that can move in the womb.
Those who oppose the bills are hopeful that lawmakers will hear their voices.
“This turnout is beyond what we could imagine and it’s just to let the lawmakers know that people oppose these bills,” Jeffrey said.
Steph Machado contributed to this report.