Abortion Bill Is Either Astonishingly Radical or Shockingly Inept

As a general question, who are you going to believe: politicians trying to maintain the support of active radicals and the donations of the abortion lobby or activists and priests who, even if you think they are wrong, are motivated by the desire to save children’s lives and protect women’s well-being?

I ask because some of the former are pushing back on the warnings of the latter by saying that they are “spreading misinformation” about a radical abortion bill:

Representative David Bennett (District 20, Warwick, Cranston), who also cosponsored the legislation, said “Roe v Wade has been the norm and the law for more than 40 years. It is a well-established precedent, and we want to ensure that it will continue being the law in Rhode Island, regardless of what happens in Washington. Claims that it would allow for unregulated and unrestricted abortions is nonsense, since it clearly states that abortions could not be performed after the point of fetal viability.” …

“I certainly appreciate the concerns of those who are alarmed by the false information they have heard about this bill,” said [Warwick Democrat Representative Evan] Shanely, “What I don’t appreciate is those who knowingly spread this misinformation in the first place. Claiming that this bill would radically change state law is untrue and irresponsible. It would not affect existing state law. It would not change the requirement of parental consent for minors, nor would it change anything related to the licensing of health care facilities.”

My suggestion is that folks should read the legislation and decide for themselves, because what the politicians are saying is wrong, whether they understand the legislation or not.  The bill, H5343, is either astonishingly radical or shockingly horrible in its drafting, and pointing that out is not “misinformation.”

“Interference” Is Everything

The legislation states plainly that no government agencies under the state can “interfere with a woman’s decision to prevent, commence, continue, or terminate a pregnancy provided the decision is made prior to fetal viability.”  “Interfere” is not defined, but according to Black’s Law Dictionary, it means: “To check; hamper; hinder; disturb; intervene; intermeddle; interpose; to enter into, or to take part in, the concerns of others.”

This would cover everything from requiring that parents be notified about minor children’s request for abortions to any waiting period at all.  Basically, anything that might affect a woman’s decision to end the life of her unborn child would be forbidden.  It could even prevent any agency or municipality from doing anything that could be seen as supporting an organization recognized as pro-life.

Taking into account dangerous trends of labeling texts with “trigger warnings,” it could be even more extreme.  A health class teaching students how to avoid pregnancy clearly “intermeddles” with the decision to “commence… a pregnancy,” especially if it offers suggestions about when the girls might or might not be ready for it.  Similarly, a biology text in public school that accurately teaches the stages of development of the human being could be declared to be invalid inasmuch as girls in the class might think the lesson has implications for their decision about future pregnancies or abortions.  (As well it should.)

“Restriction” Is Total

The legislation also states plainly that no government agencies can “restrict the use” or “the manner” of any procedures that would end unborn children’s lives as long as they are “medically recognized.”  That phrase is not defined, which likely means that any procedure done in any way under any circumstances that some doctor “recognizes” as valid is allowed.  The legislation doesn’t even require that “medically recognized” be particularly safe, so if a handful of doctors were to declare, somewhere, that a coat-hanger is one way to remove a baby, then it could be considered “recognized.”

“Viability” Is Meaningless

The one term that the legislation does define is “fetal viability,” which would therefore only mean what the legislation says it means.  That’s an important point, because our general understanding of the term becomes irrelevant.  Whatever you think “viability” is doesn’t matter; the bill could use “fetal popop,” and the effect would be the same.  So, how does the legislation define it?

… that stage of gestation where the attending physician, taking into account the particular facts of the case, has determined that there is a reasonable likelihood of the fetus’ sustained survival outside of the womb


  1. The abortionist who has agreed to perform the procedure (and be paid well for the service) gets to define viability.
  2. He or she is explicitly permitted to consider the “particular facts of the case,” which means “viability” could be different for every single woman.
  3. The notion of “sustained survival outside of the womb” could, then, take into account whether the abortionist thinks the woman might be so distraught at bringing a child into the world that she would neglect him or her in a way that increases the risk of accidental death.

Note, as well, that “viability” enters into the legislation related to “a woman’s decision.”  That is, the abortionist would be determining whether the decision to abort the child occurred prior to “viability,” not whether the child is “viable” at the time of the procedure.  So, a woman at full term of pregnancy could go into natural labor at nine months and go to an abortionist, and this legislation would therefore allow the following:

Abortionist: Why do you want to terminate this pregnancy?

Mother: I don’t want it.

Abortionist [nodding head suggestively]: Do you think the fetus might be at risk if you carry it to term?

Mother: Yes.

Abortionist [still nodding head]: Did you make that decision three months ago?

Mother: Yes?

Abortionist: OK.  Insurance, cash, or charge?

Again, this is what the bill would allow to the extent that the federal government leaves the matter under the purview of the states.  Even some of the latitude that states currently have — like waiting periods, the display of a sonogram image, or information about other options women have — would immediately change.*

The callousness to want to put this sort of legislation into law ought to be disqualifying for elected legislators.  How radical (or incompetent) do they have to be to sign on to a bill that is this broad, whether the reason is that the drafters are far, far left or that they wrote the language poorly?


* The first version of this post included parental consent on this list.  However, the legislation does contain a specific exception, by legal reference, to the current statute requiring parental consent, unless the child involves the judiciary.

Although this provision would remain active in the law, H5343 would change its nature.  Right now, the parental consent statute is a baseline requirement in the law, not a limit on what any government agency or municipality can require.  H5343 would reverse that, and the loose parental consent rule written explicitly into state law would be the maximum “interference” permissible.

This explicit exception proves the extremity of the bill overall.  Any other policy not listed as an exception, even if it’s currently written into state law, would be void, and the only other listed policy is the state’s conscience clause for health care providers.

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