Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
News : Recent Press Releases     Op-Ed     Publications     About the Legislative Press Bureau Printer Friendly View
1/15/2019 Goldin, Ajello file Reproductive Health Care Act
STATE HOUSE – With the backing of more cosponsors than ever before, Rep. Edith H. Ajello and Sen. Gayle L. Goldin are introducing legislation to enshrine the reproductive health care rights protected by Roe v. Wade to defend against threats at the federal level.

The Reproductive Health Care Act, which they also filed in 2017 and 2018, would codify the current state of the law on reproductive rights in Rhode Island set forth under the landmark Roe v. Wade case, limiting restrictions on an individual’s right to terminate a pregnancy. It would also update and correct Rhode Island codification of its general laws by formally removing statutes and sections concerning reproductive rights that have been declared unconstitutional and unenforceable, but have never been removed.

Representative Ajello introduced the House legislation (2019-H 5127) today, with a total of 39 sponsors. Senator Goldin expects to introduce hers tomorrow, and currently has a total of 17 sponsors.

With a conservative-leaning Supreme Court and a president and the leader of the U.S. Senate who are opposed to reproductive freedom, the two Providence legislators are pushing for passage of their bill to protect Rhode Islanders in the case of any federal rollback of rights.

“Numerous unconstitutional laws concerning women’s reproductive rights have not only remained on our books since Roe v. Wade 46 years ago, but new ones have been added. Yet Rhode Islanders overwhelmingly support reproductive rights. Women deserve better. Rhode Island must affirm, once and for all, that a women’s right to make decisions about her own body is protected in our state, before the federal government stops doing that job for us,” said Senator Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence), who was named deputy majority whip of the Senate during today’s session.

Said Representative Ajello (D-Dist. 1, Providence), “These laws are not just harmless little ‘on-paper-only’ contradictions. The possibility that Roe v. Wade will be overturned in the coming months or years is very real, and the result in Rhode Island would be that these harmful, insidious laws would become effective once again, with devastating impacts on women’s health. Nearly half a century of progress would be wiped away, and we would return to the days when women were forced to put their lives at risk in making personal reproductive health decisions.”

The legislation is identical to the bill they introduced during the 2018 session. The Reproductive Health Care Act would prohibit the state or any of its agencies from interfering with any individual’s reproductive health care, including a decision to terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability, or after that point in cases when necessary to preserve the woman’s health or life. It would eliminate several chapters that make it a criminal offense to perform an abortion or help a woman obtain one, as well as a law enacted in 1973 following the Roe v. Wade decision that defines human life as commencing “at the instant of conception.” It would also eliminate laws requiring that the husband of any married woman is notified before she can terminate a pregnancy and prohibiting insurers from covering the procedure.

A poll from the Providence Journal, the Public’s Radio and ABC 6 this fall found 71 percent of Rhode Islanders surveyed support the bill to protect abortion access. Despite this public support, NARAL Pro-choice America lists Rhode Island as having the most restrictive abortion laws in New England. The agency ranks Rhode Island worse than even conservative states like Alaska and Montana, because their laws have more adequate protections of women’s right to make their own health care decisions.

Cosponsors include more than three-quarters of the female members of the House (20 of 26 female representatives) and more than two-thirds of female Senators (11 of 16).

Legislators who are cosponsoring the legislation include:
  • Rep. Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence)
  • Rep. Julie A. Casimiro (D-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter)
  • Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown)
  • Rep. Kathleen A. Fogarty (D-Dist. 35, South Kingstown)
  • Rep. Justine Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich)
  • Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Dist. 18, Cranston)
  • Rep. Jason Knight (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren)
  • Rep. Marvin L. Abney (D-Dist.73, Newport, Middletown)
  • Rep. Charlene Lima (D-Dist. 14, Cranston, Providence)
  • Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket)
  • Rep. Terri Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown)
  • Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston)
  • Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett)
  • Rep. Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport)
  • Rep. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (D-Dist. 5, Providence)
  • Rep. Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton)
  • Rep. Rebecca Kislak (D-Dist. 4, Providence)
  • Rep. Susan R. Donovan (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth)
  • Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence)
  • Rep. Moira J. Walsh (D-Dist. 3, Providence)
  • Rep. Evan Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick)
  • Rep. Katherine Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence)
  • Rep. Jean Philippe Barros (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket)
  • Rep. John W. Lyle Jr. (R-Dist. 46, Lincoln, Pawtucket)
  • Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown)
  • Rep. Joseph S. Almeida (D-Dist. 12, Providence)
  • Rep. Anastasia  P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence)
  • Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett)
  • Rep. Liana Cassar (D-Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence)
  • Rep. Mary Duffy Messier (D-Dist. 62, Pawtucket)
  • Rep. John Lombardi (D-Dist. 8, Providence)
  • Rep. David Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston)
  • Rep. Mario Mendez (D-Dist. 13, Johnston, Providence)
  • Rep. Carlos E. Tobon (D-Dist. 58, Pawtucket)
  • Rep. Jose Serodio (D-Dist. 64, East Providence)
  • Rep. Shelby Maldonado (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls)
  • Rep. Daniel P. McKiernan (D-Dist. 7, Providence)
  • Rep. Robert B. Jacquard (D-Dist. 17, Cranston)
  • Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham)
  • Sen. Erin Lynch Prata (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston)
  • Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence)
  • Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence)
  • Sen. James A. Seveney (D-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol, Tiverton)
  • Sen. Adam J. Satchell (D-Dist. 9, West Warwick)
  • Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown)
  • Sen. Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln)
  • Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence)
  • Sen. Ana B. Quezada (D-Dist. 2, Providence)
  • Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket)
  • Sen. Valarie J. Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence)
  • Sen. Samuel W. Bell (D-Dist. 5, Providence)
  • Sen. Melissa A. Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield)
  • Sen. Bridget Valverde (D-Dist. 35, North Kingstown, South Kingstown, East Greenwich, Narragansett)
  • Sen. William J. Conley Jr. (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket).

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923