The Latest: Rhode Island governor signs abortion rights bill

June 20, 2019 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Latest on the debate in Rhode Island over a bill to preserve federal abortion protections in state law (all times local):

9 p.m.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed a bill to preserve federal abortion protections in state law.

The Senate passed the bill Wednesday and immediately transmitted it to the House, which resumed its session to pass it.

Raimondo quickly signed it in her office, calling it an “important, consequential bill.” She says it’s about protecting and providing access to health care for all Rhode Island women.

Rhode Island is one of the Democratic-led states taking steps to enshrine the right to an abortion should the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.


The new law says the state will not restrict the right to an abortion prior to fetal viability or afterward if an abortion is necessary for the health or life of the mother.

It repeals older state abortion laws deemed unconstitutional by the courts.

7 p.m.

Rhode Island’s Senate has passed a bill to preserve federal abortion protections in state law, sending it to the House where it’s also expected to pass.

The bill passed 21 to 17 Wednesday.

Democratic Sen. Erin Lynch Prata, of Warwick, says it codifies the status quo and its passage protects state residents.

Democratic Senate President Dominick Ruggerio opposed the measure.

The House version, passed in March, was changed during the Senate’s committee process.

An expansion of who may consent to a minor’s abortion was removed. Language was added to make clear that late-term abortions are only allowed when necessary to preserve the mother’s life or health.

The Senate is amending another statute to ensure the attorney general can prosecute crimes that result in the death of a fetus.