Protestors at state capital represent both sides of abortion debate

Tim Caplan – News Editor

Pro-life and Pro-choice advocates of the newly proposed opposing Rhode Island abortion bills showed up to the State Capital to let their voices be heard on Tuesday, Jan 29.

The debate about abortion is a very polarized subject in American life, and that showed this week on Smith Hill. Hundreds of people came to protest and testify to the House Judiciary Committee for both the pro-abortion and anti-abortion bills being proposed.

The Rhode Island Reproductive Healthcare act is a bill proposed by Democratic Representative Edith Ajello, and co-sponsored by 39 other representatives. Governor Gina Raimondo Tweeted a letter to Chairman Robert Craven in which she expressed her “strong support” of the bill, stating that she “support(s) efforts to protect Rhode Island women’s rights to reproductive health care.”

The bill would get rid of abortion restrictions in the state of Rhode Island. It would repeal a law about spousal notice during an abortion procedure (forcing the mother to tell the father about the abortion) as well as a repeal of Rhode Island General Law Chapter 24 section 4.12 concerning “partial birth abortion.” The law banned the action of a partial birth abortion, which, according to the law is “an abortion in which the person performing the abortion…delivers a living human fetus before killing the infant and completing the delivery.”

One of the two opposing bills is called the Rhode Island Right to Life Act, which is only one page long and bans the abortion of a child outright. The bill states that “the right to life is guaranteed by the State of Rhode Island and vested to each person at fertilization.” This bill was introduced by Rhode Island state Representatives Mclaughlin, Hull, Corvese, Serodio, and Vella-Wilkinson. Another bill proposed by Representatives Corvese, Azzinaro, Vella-Wilkinson, Fellela, and Costantino would ban “Dismemberment Abortions” in Rhode Island.

This is a very hotly contested subject and that manifested itself in the emotional testimonies at the capital. Pro-choice advocates believe that abortion is a fundamental right of privacy and taking it away would be a violation of the rights of a woman to make choices about her body. Pro-life advocates believe that abortion is the killing of an innocent child.

These strongly opposed views were apparent throughout the proceedings, when Rhode Island Democratic Party Women’s Caucus Secretary Melanie Dupont proposed an amendment, she stated that the members of her party who didn’t support abortion should be “ashamed” to call themselves democrats. Dupont also made a statement during her proposal to fellow Democratic Representative Gregory J. Constantino in which she said “I contend that, anytime Gregory J. Constantino tries to abridge my rights as a woman, and endanger my life, I… should return the favor and abridge his rights as a man and endanger his life.” This comment was seen as a threat on his by Representative Constantino and he preceded by contacting the Rhode Island state Police, who are investigating the incident according to NBC 10.   

House members are still considering the bills and have yet to bring them to a vote.