Yesterday, on a Friday afternoon at 5:27 pm (weasels), the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee posted a notice for a
hearing committee vote only; no testimony to be heard this Tuesday of the two extreme abortion bills pending on Smith Hill: the one that passed the House (H5125 Sub A) and the other that had been held for study (S0152 Sub A) in the same Senate committee.
Don’t be fooled that there are two abortion bills under consideration, as though one would be better than the other. Both bills are referred to euphemistically as the “Reproductive Privacy Act”. And on the critical point of substance, both bills include an identical loophole that would change Rhode Island law to legalize abortion at any point during the pregnancy, including third trimester. This is the wording in each bill that would create this huge, new loophole:
(d) The termination of an individual’s pregnancy after fetal viability is expressly prohibited except when necessary, in the medical judgment of the physician, to preserve the life or health of that individual.
To preserve the “life or health” of the woman. Under these bills, health is carefully included as a permitted reason for a woman to have an abortion at any point in her pregnancy – right through the entire third trimester. A case for a loophole of health is easily made to the physician in a few words. A baby is a bundle of joy but s/he also is a major responsibility and naturally, comes with many needs, some of which are monetary in nature. A major new responsibility + money pressure = Stress. Studies have repeatedly shown that health is directly, negatively impacted by stress.
In an important related development earlier this week, the results of a scientific poll, which has gotten little publicity, were released this week. It confirmed that 77% of Rhode Island voters oppose allowing abortions up until birth. It is indisputable: that’s what these bills would do. They would legalize abortion in Rhode Island up until birth. So this poll has revealed that these extreme abortion bills present a major will-of-the-people issue. It should also be noted, more pragmatically from legislators’ perspective, that voting for these bills would pose a major political liability at re-election time.
My initial thought was that the hearing and presumably soon-to-follow Senate floor vote on these bills had been suddenly thrown into overdrive before the dismaying (from the perspective of pro-choice extremists) results of this poll came to be widely circulated. Then it occurred to me that the furor surrounding the sudden legislative action on these reprehensible and controversial bills would also provide perfect cover for Governor Gina Raimondo to do her dirty work in accelerating the state’s financial tailspin by signing the evergreen and OT bills – reprehensible and controversial in their own different but equally troubling way.