March 13, 2006

Life Issues in Rhode Island

Carroll Andrew Morse

In today's Pawtucket Times, Jim Baron speculates on the effect that South Dakota's abortion ban may have on Rhode Island…

A quick check of the General Assembly website shows there are 17 abortion bills currently in the hopper (some of those are duplicate House-Senate bills). For a decade or so there has been a gentlemen’s agreement (pun intended) in the legislature that no abortion bills would pass - no pro-abortion bills, no anti-abortion bills. That maintained the status quo (which was safe to do as long as abortion was exclusively a federal issue, which it would no longer be if Roe went by the boards)and cut down on a lot of acrimony.

It is worth noting that while the anti-abortion Women’s Right to Know Act has been introduced this year in both chambers, the pro-abortion bill from a few years ago that would assure the procedure would remain legal in Rhode Island if Roe were overturned has not.

Baron also suggests, in the realm of the purely political, that the re-emergence of abortion as a state issue could effect the electoral prospects of second district Congressman James Langevin, who is pro-life.

Related to another life issue, the Projo’s Political Scene column notes that the House’s Health, Education, and Welfare Committee will consider an assisted suicide bill during a marathon committee session this Wednesday where 37 other bills will be considered. Here’s the core of the proposed bill (House bill 7428)…

An adult who is capable, is a resident of Rhode Island, and has been determined by the attending physician and consulting physician to be suffering from a terminal disease, and who has voluntarily expressed his or her wish to die, may make a written request for medication for the purpose of ending his or her life in a humane and dignified manner in accordance with this chapter.
A Charles Bakst column from earlier this year, where he quotes bill sponsor Edith Ajello (D-Providence), suggests that this bill probably won’t pass in this session. Still, it seems that a matter like this -- quite literally a life-and-death issue -- deserves more than 1/38th of a committee session.