The Portsmouth RI Democratic Town Committee, at their monthly meeting on April 6, 2017, passed a resolution supporting RI House Bill 5343 and Senate Bill 0274, the “Reproductive Health Care Act,” which prohibits the state from interfering in a woman’s reproductive decision-making or restricting medically recognized methods of contraception or abortion.
“The Town Committee joins our voice with the scores of Rhode Islanders who testified at the House Judiciary Committee hearing last week in support of this measure protecting a woman’s right to make health care decisions without state interference,” said Portsmouth Democratic Town Committee Chair Len Katzman.
The resolution notes that polling consistently shows that Rhode Islanders overwhelmingly support keeping abortion safe and legal and focuses on the threat posed by any possible overturn of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision protecting access to abortion.
The resolution explains that Rhode Island currently has a law on the books — RIGL 11-3-1 — outlawing abortion from the “instant of conception” with no exceptions whatsoever to protect the health of the mother, or for cases of rape or incest, or for cases of catastrophic or even fatal fetal abnormalities. This law even makes it a crime for doctors to talk with a patient about the medical options for terminating pregnancy. This measure only appears on the General Assembly website in current RI General Laws as “Unconstitutional,” so many lawmakers may be unaware of its contents.
“Roe v. Wade makes 11-3-1 unenforceable,” said Katzman. “But if that were to change — something our current President has made clear he supports — this draconian law would immediately come into effect, denying women control over their own bodies and criminalizing doctor-patient communication. That’s why a state law protecting access is critical at this time.”
The Town Committee’s resolution calls on all members of the General Assembly to support the Reproductive Health Care Act.
“We’re proud that our Portsmouth Senator, Jim Seveney (Democrat, District 11, Portsmouth, Bristol, Tiverton) and Representative Susan Donovan (Democrat, District 69, Bristol, Tiverton), are co-sponsors of this measure,” said Katzman, “And we urge other members of the General Assembly to join them and other supporters in calling for a floor vote in this session.”