While Rhode Island provides some basic protections for women and minors considering abortion, it allows cloning-for-biomedical-research—thus making it a “clone-and-kill” state. Moreover, it offers no legal protection for researchers who conscientiously object to such unethical practices.
- Rhode Island possesses an enforceable abortion prohibition should the U.S. Constitution be amended or certain U.S. Supreme Court decisions be reversed or modified.
- A physician may not perform an abortion on a woman until the physician or the physician’s agent has informed her of the probable gestational age of her unborn child and the nature and risks of the proposed abortion procedure. The woman must also sign a statement indicating she was informed that, if she decides to carry her child to term, she may be able to place the child with either a relative or with another family through foster care or adoption.
- A physician may not perform an abortion on an unemancipated minor under the age of 18 without the consent of one parent unless there is a medical emergency or a minor obtains a court order.
- Rhode Island has a complex system of abortion clinic regulations under which different standards apply at different stages of pregnancy and different facilities may be used to perform abortions at different stages of gestation.
- “Termination procedures” (non-surgical abortion procedures) must be performed by a licensed physician or “other licensed healthcare practitioner acting within his/her scope of practice.”
- The state has an enforceable abortion reporting law, but does not require the reporting of information to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The measure pertains to both surgical and nonsurgical abortions.
- Rhode Island follows the federal standard for Medicaid funding for abortions, only permitting the use of federal or state matching Medicaid funds for abortions necessary to preserve the life of the woman or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
- The state prohibits abortion coverage for public employees (explicitly including city and town employees) except when a woman’s life or health is endangered or in cases of rape or incest.
Legal Recognition and Protection of Unborn and Newly Born:
- Under Rhode Island law, the killing of an unborn child after “quickening” (discernible movement in the womb) is homicide.
- The state allows a wrongful death (civil) action when a viable unborn child is killed through a negligent or criminal act.
- Any physician, nurse, or other licensed medical provider who knowingly and intentionally fails to provide reasonable medical care and treatment to an infant born alive in the course of an abortion, and as a result the infant dies, is guilty of the crime of manslaughter. Thus, the state has created a specific affirmative duty to provide medical care and treatment to infants born alive at any stage of development.
- The state defines substance abuse during pregnancy as “child abuse” under civil child-welfare statutes. Rhode Island also requires healthcare professionals to report suspected prenatal drug exposure.
- Rhode Island maintains a measure allowing a woman who loses a child after 20-weeks gestation to obtain a “Certificate of Birth Resulting in Still Birth.” The certificate is filed with the state registrar.
- Rhode Island bans cloning-to-produce-children, but not cloning-for-biomedical-research—thus, making it a “clone-and-kill” state. The state does not prohibit destructive embryo research.
- Rhode Island bans harmful experimentation on a live human fetus, but allows experimentation on a dead fetus if consent of the mother is obtained.
- Every obstetrical professional or facility is to inform a pregnant woman once during her pregnancy of the options relating to stem cells that are contained in the umbilical cord blood, and each hospital or other obstetrical facility must cooperate with the collection staff of a cord blood bank designated by the woman and facilitate the donation of the cord blood.
- The state maintains no meaningful regulation of human egg harvesting or assisted reproductive technologies.
End of Life Laws:
- Under Rhode Island law, assisting a suicide is a felony.
- The state maintains a Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Paradigm Program.
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Laws:
Participation in Abortion and Contraception:
- A physician or other person associated with, employed by, or on the staff of a healthcare facility who objects in writing and on religious and/or moral grounds is not required to participate in abortions.
- Health insurance plans which provide prescription coverage are also required to provide coverage for contraception. The provision includes a conscience exemption so narrow it excludes the ability of most employers and insurers with moral or religious objections from exercising the exemption.
Participation in Research Harmful to Human Life:
- Rhode Island provides no protection for the rights of healthcare providers who conscientiously object to participation in human cloning, destructive embryo research, and other forms of medical research, which violate a provider’s moral or religious belief.
What Happened in 2013:
- Rhode Island considered measures prohibiting sex-selection abortions and partial-birth abortion. It also considered measures related to informed consent, ultrasounds, abortion funding, and insurance coverage of abortion.
- A measure approving “Choose Life” license plates was vetoed by Governor Lincoln Chafee.
- The state considered a measure related to fetal homicide and assault.
- Rhode Island enacted legislation extending the “sunset provision” in its prohibition on cloning-to-produce-children, meaning that only cloning-to-produce-children remains prohibited.
- Rhode Island enacted a measure establishing a palliative care advisory council and educational program.
Recommendations for Rhode Island
Women’s Protection Project Priorities:
- Women’s Health Defense Act (5-month abortion limitation)
- Reflection period for abortion
- Women’s Health Protection Act
- Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act
- Parental Involvement Enhancement Act
- Child Protection Act
- Abortion Mandate Opt-Out Act
- Defunding the Abortion Industry and Advancing Women’s Health Act
- Women’s Ultrasound Right to Know Act
- Coercive Abuse Against Mothers Prevention Act
- Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act
- Joint Resolution Commending Pregnancy Resource Centers
Legal Recognition and Protection for the Unborn:
- Crimes Against the Unborn Child Act (providing protection from conception)
- Unborn Wrongful Death Act
- Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act
- Human Cloning Prohibition Act
- Destructive Embryo Research Act
- Prohibition on Public Funding of Human Cloning and Destructive Embryo Research Act
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience:
- Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act