In a surprising move on Tuesday evening, the Rhode Island chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee transferred a high-profile abortion bill to a different committee in order to avoid being shot down for a second time.
The Judiciary Committee failed to vote on S152-Sub B, after the committee realized it would fail for the second time around. The bill is similar to the one passed in New York this past spring that will legalize abortions up to birth once enacted.
According to Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, he moved the bill to a different committee, after he found out on Tuesday that the chamber’s Republicans were planning to join the committee for the day, invoking their “ex officio” powers in order to vote down the abortion bill.
“Throughout the day, I implored Republican leadership not to undermine the hard work of the Senate Judiciary Committee by abusing their powers as ex-officio members,” Ruggerio, D-North Providence, said. “In fact, Democratic and Republican leadership held several discussions this session where we agreed that we would not vote in committee on the bill because we wanted the committee process to take its normal course.”
In what was an unusual move, Sen. Ruggerio moved the bill to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. They will now vote on the Reproductive Privacy Act, this Thursday at 6:15 p.m.
The idea to move the bill to a different committee came as a surprise to many. The vote was predicted to go through after Senate Democrat Stephen Archambault decided he would vote for the new revised bill.
After the revisions were made to the bill, Sen. Archambault said that he would vote for the revised bill when it eventually came back for a re-vote.
“I am pleased we have reached an agreement that accomplishes my goals of codifying Roe v. Wade and ensuring that safeguards are built in to limit late-term, post-viability abortion,” Archambault previously wrote in a statement.
What is inside the abortion bill?
Advocates for the abortion bill argued that they needed a new bill to keep abortion, while the Rhode Island Right to Life group pointed out that they do not need a new law to keep abortion legal.
“They falsely claim it maintains the status quo,” the Rhode Island Right to Life wrote. “But expert legal analysis verifies it goes way beyond and would make Rhode Island a haven for virtually unregulated abortions, even late-term abortions.”
The Rhode Island abortion bill would put the state on par with New York, who voted on a similar law this past January. The law allows for women to choose to abort their babies at any point in their pregnancy, completely de-regulating any form of abortion restrictions that were previously put in place.
The background of the bill
The bill was first brought the state Senate Judiciary Committee in May, where it was voted down 5-4. Sen. Archambault (D-Smithfield) voted against the bill, and the Senate President Dominick Ruggerio called for further study of the bill.
As previously reported by Faithwire News, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said that “there is opportunity for further action,” regarding the bill, and it went back for revision.
“I ask all parties to continue working together to see if amended language can be developed that will pass committee and be brought to the floor,″ Ruggerio had said.
After revising the bill, the Providence Journal called the changes “compromise” and praised the Senate for coming to an agreement.
“A compromise has been reached in the abortion-rights debate that sets the stage for a key state Senate committee to reverse course and pass abortion-rights legislation to “preserve what we have now,” they wrote. “No more. No less.”