After some procedural wrangling by Democrats, the bill now goes to the full Senate.
A bill meant to shore up abortion rights in Rhode Island cleared a major hurdle Thursday, passing a Senate committee by a vote of 8 to 2.
The Senate Health and Human Services passed the bill that supporters say “codifies the status quo” -- that is, the precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision.Sen. Elizabeth Crowley voted for the measure despite describing herself as pro-life. Crowley said she initially opposed the House version of the bill. After Senate Democrats introduced some additional limits, Crowley grew more supportive.
“I must have talked yesterday to about 25 or 30 OB-GYNs, and they told me some very sad stories,” Crowley said. “And so you say to yourself: What is for the greater good?”
Senate Minority Whip Elaine Morgan, a Republican, joined the committee to vote no in an ex officio capacity. Morgan said the bill amounted to “abortion on demand.”
Morgan also registered objections to Democrats' transfer of the bill out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. After Republican leaders threatened to use their ex officio capacity to thwart its passage, that committee’s chair invoked an obscure rule to move the bill to the Senate Health and Human Services.
The full Senate is scheduled to consider the bill on Wednesday.