Tuesday night, an overwhelmingly pro-life crowd of Rhode Islanders including many Millennials gathered at the State House in opposition to the Reproductive Health Care Act (RHCA). House Bill 5127 would expand abortion in Rhode Island removing existing restrictions from state law.
According to Barth Bracy of Rhode Island Right to Life, opponents of the bill to expand abortion outnumbered supporters ten to one.
As people were arriving at the State House, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin tweeted, “The fear of Roe v. Wade being overturned is being used as an excuse, a smoke screen, to expand abortion in RI. Abortion destroys innocent life and exploits vulnerable women. It is a cruel and violent practice. No more abortion in RI.”
If passed, the RHCA would expand on-demand abortion in the Ocean State to include the most extreme procedures. The lead sponsors of the bill are Progressive Rep. Edith Ajello and Progressive Sen. Gayle Goldin. They intend to remove from Rhode Island law the ban on partial-birth abortions.
Further, the bills would remove from law additional penalties for the killing of an unborn child as a result of injury to the mother. House Minority Leader Blake Filippi pointed out the removal of this language in a strong line of questioning against supporters of removing restrictions on abortion during the committee hearing. It would also stop the notification of spouses of women seeking abortions, and would expand the number of abortions paid for by taxpayers and insurance providers.
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During the hearing, millennial activist Jenna Aoyama delivered a powerful testimony on behalf of her friend Madeline. According to Aoyama, Madeline ended an abusive relationship in 2009 and then discovered she was pregnant with fraternal twins. Madeline suffered with severe and abnormal heart complications that put her life at risk during her pregnancy. She was advised to have an abortion by her doctor.
“Suddenly, I found myself as the subject of that oft-cited scenario where an abortion is needed to save the life of a mother. I found it shocking that while being so concerned with saving my life, my doctor didn’t seem concerned about saving the lives of my two children in my womb,” testified Aoyama on behalf of her friend. “I could have listened to this man and my story could have ended there. But, I believed in hope and life far too much to let this doctor harm my children. I walked out of his office and never went back. Instead, I found a doctor who was in the business of trying to save lives rather than ending them.”
Aoyama told the committee that Madeline and her new doctor fought for the lives of her children. She further testified that Madeline’s children were delivered by emergency c-section at twenty weeks. Sadly, her son and daughter only lived a few minutes after delivery, but even in that short time the lives of her children had value. In that time, they had lives of love, care, and dignity.
She concluded her testimony by saying that Madeline was sick and tired of hearing stories like her story being used to justify abortion. Aoyama is a former house mother at the Little Flower Home. The mission of the Little Flower Home is to provide shelter and care for homeless pregnant women.
Testimony went on until nearly 3:00 am. The bills before the committee were held for further study, meaning that they can be moved forward for a floor vote in the House at a later time on the orders of leadership. Speaker Mattiello has pledged to be a firewall against Progressive legislation and recently ran as a pro-life Democrat, but committee members have signaled some version of the bill may move. The bill would then have to pass the RI Senate. Similar legislation recently was made law in New York. Governor Gina Raimondo, a Catholic, has already said she would sign the bill to expand abortion into law.