PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — When the bill that would establish the right to obtain an abortion in Rhode Island heads to the House floor for a vote Thursday, it will not earn support from the chamber’s top member.
Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello will be voting against the bill, his spokesman confirmed Wednesday, releasing a statement from the speaker that began: “Although I am pro-life and intend to vote against the bill tomorrow, I appreciate this is a sensitive issue that people on both sides care very deeply about.”
“I am mindful that 70 percent of the people, in a poll conducted last fall, support the codification of Roe v. Wade into state law,” he continued.
“I previously indicated the House would have a collaborative process on this issue and I would seek the guidance from the Judiciary Committee, my House colleagues and Rhode Islanders,” Mattiello said. “After the collaborative process, the decision was reached to place the issue on the floor for a vote.”
How unexpected was @RISpeaker allowing tomorrow’s vote on the progressive-backed abortion bill? Here’s the flier @RIRTL sent endorsing him just last fall, explicitly saying Mattiello “stands in the way” of such legislation pic.twitter.com/0vG6LjvSl2— Ted Nesi (@TedNesi) March 6, 2019
By a close 9-7 vote Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee approved a revised version of the Reproductive Privacy Act, sponsored by Rep. Anastasia Williams, D-Providence. It states that a woman has the right to obtain an abortion under state law until the fetus is viable, or after that point “when necessary to preserve the health or life of that individual.” It also reaffirms the federal ban on so-called “partial-birth abortion.”
While the committee’s chairman called the bill “a strict codification of Roe v. Wade,” critics argued it goes beyond the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision. Three Democrats joined all the committee’s Republicans in voting against the bill.
Opponents are expected to offer amendments to the bill during Thursday’s House floor debate.
Separately, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a marathon hearing on the same abortion bill that began late Tuesday afternoon and lasted until nearly 6 a.m. Wednesday. Senate leaders have not yet said if and when the bill will receive a vote.
Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo supports the bill and has said she will sign it if lawmakers approve it.
House Judiciary Committee abortion bill vote
YES (9): Reps. Robert Craven, D-North Kingstown; Evan Shanley, D-Warwick; Carol Hagan McEntee, D-Narragansett; Jay Edwards, D-Portsmouth; Julie Casimiro, D-North Kingstown; Joe Almeida, D-Providence; Dennis Canario, D-Portsmouth; Dan McKiernan, D-Providence; James Jackson, D-West Warwick.
NO (7): Reps. Chris Millea, D-Cranston; Camille Vella Wilkinson, D-Warwick; Arthur Corvese, D-North Providence; Thomas Noret, D-Coventry; David Place, R-Burrillville; Sherry Roberts, R-West Greenwich; Blake Filippi, R-New Shoreham.
Ted Nesi and Steph Machado contributed to this report.