Rhode Island Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said Thursday that he expects the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote this session on a high-profile abortion bill, although he remains non-committal on the timing.
“That’s our intention as far as the committee process at this time, to put it out there for a vote,” Ruggerio said during an interview at The Public’s Radio.
As far as the timing, “I would like to see that happen before June, but I just can’t say at this time point in time because we’re still working on the legislation.”
Last month, the Rhode Island House, on a 44-to-30 vote, approved a bill sponsored by Rep. Anastasia Williams (D-Providence) that supporters say will codify Roe v. Wade. The Senate Judiciary Committee has yet to take up the companion measure sponsored by Sen. Gayle Goldin (D-Providence), and the committee remains closely divided on the legislation.
“Right now, some people, they’re sitting down discussing some of the issues, some of the specifics of the legislation,” Ruggerio said. “Some people are interested in proposing amendments. We haven’t seen them yet at this point in time, so we’re still in the discussion phase.”
Ruggerio said he’s taken a hand-off approach to the polarizing issue since his members have sharply different views about it and since supporters and opponents disagree about the potential impact of the abortion bill.
But despite his personal opposition to abortion rights, “I felt that a vote is necessary on an issue such as this,” Ruggerio said. “I have not spoken with any of my members regarding how they’re voting on this piece of legislation or what they’re thinking regarding that at this point in time, and I have no intention of interfering in the process.”
The House vote in March marked a change from a longtime stalemate on abortion-related bills in the General Assembly.
Some opponents downplay the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court could overturn Roe vs. Wade. But supporters say that threat has intensified since the election of President Donald Trump, and that action is needed.