Pubdate: Wed, 29 Jun 2005
Source: Kent County Daily Times (RI)
Copyright: 2005 Kent County Daily Times
Author: Jim Baron, JRC News Service
Cited: Marijuana Policy Project ( )
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


PROVIDENCE -- Legislation that would make an abortion illegal unless
the pregnant woman receives information at least 24 hours beforehand
about the risks and possible alternatives passed the Senate 27-9 on

West Warwick Sen. Stephen Alves, the bill's sponsor, said the Women's
Right to Know Act, "simply provides a woman contemplating an abortion
with unbiased, scientific, accurate information about an unborn
child's development, the risk of abortion and the alternatives that
are available within a 24-hour period to think about that

Waiting 24 hours, Alves told his colleagues, "helps to ensure that the
decision was well-considered."

Performing an abortion in violation of provisions of the act would be
a felony, and the patient, the child's father and grandparents would
all be authorized to bring civil actions for actual and punitive
damages against the doctor.

A slew of amendments that, among other things, would provide an
expanded definition of abortion, make an exception to the 24 hour wait
in cases of rape and incest, and protect the privacy of patients and
doctors in required reports and records all failed by lopsided margins.

"When a person comes into that room and seeks a consultation with a
physician," Sen. Charles Levesque of Portsmouth said, "they have a
very strong knowledge of what they need and what they want. What we
are doing with this legislation is interjecting ourselves into that
room with them. We are interjecting our values into that room. We are
saying we have a right to be in that room with them to discuss this

"None of you belong in that room unless you are asked to be in that
room," Levesque scolded. "We are intruding on somebody's decision. I
suggest to you we have no right to be in that room when this decision
is being made."

"What no one yet has said this afternoon is that the reason we have 12
to 15 amendments on this bill is that the opponents of Senator Alves'
piece of legislation are scared to death that Rhode Island will be the
first state to overturn Roe vs. Wade" the landmark U.S. Supreme Court
decision making abortion legal, Sen. Leo Blais of Coventry asserted.

Noting that the Senate passed medical marijuana legislation "because
we wanted to send a message to the federal government.

Well this bill today is also sending a message to the people of Rhode
Island that the Rhode Island Senate believes that life is the most
important commodity we have and that we need to value that life and
protect that life from the moment of conception."

The issue of abortion, Blais said, "goes beyond religion, goes beyond
party lines, but goes to the moral character of folks who believe what
they bring up here is a piece of themselves as well as the issues of
the voters of their district."

"This measure is a ruse," declared Providence Sen. Rhoda Perry, "it is
not benign. It is not about protecting a woman's right to know. It is
about falsifying and presenting as scientific facts statements that
are anecdotal in nature."

In particular, Perry said offering one amendment, "there should be no
question that victims of rape and incest should not be subject to the
burden of informed consent."

Alves responded that is "not too onerous to look at a picture of a
fetus" before "terminating a human life."

Sen. Daniel Issa of Central Falls, Cumberland and Pawtucket, said he
is "tired of hearing the bill called a ruse. My comment is what is
wrong with waiting one day for something that is probably going to
affect you for the rest of your life." Issa also disputed Perry's
contention that there are no long term psychological effects in women
who have abortions. "I find that argument bogus," Issa said.

The bill now goes to the House, where it has been defeated several
times in previous years.

In other business, the Senate finally fine-tuned both its own and the
House's version of the medical marijuana bill and sent both to Gov.
Donald Carcieri. Carcieri spokesman Jeff Neal said the governor is
likely to veto them.

The bills, which would allow persons with certain degenerative and
painful diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis or AIDS could get
a recommendation from their doctor to give to the RI Department of
Health, which would issue a "registry identification card to the
patient and two caregivers that would protect them from arrest,
prosecution or asset forfeiture for possessing less than 2.5 ounces of
marijuana or up to 12 plants.

The law would expire on June 30, 2007 if it is not reauthorize by the
General Assembly, in the meantime, DOH would send a report to
lawmakers detailing any abuse or arrests connected with the

Providence Rep. Thomas Slater, the sponsor of the House bill and a
Washington DC based marijuana lobbying group chided Carcieri for his
veto threat.

"Governor Carcieri claims he cannot sign a law that contradicts
federal law, yet he allowed a prescription drug importation bill to
pass into law last year despite being warned by the FDA that such a
law was unconstitutional -- something that is clearly not the case
with medical marijuana," said Neal Levine, director of state policies
for the Marijuana Policy Project. "The governor should stop making
phony excuses and sign the medical marijuana bill." Neal said
comparing the medical marijuana bill to the Canadian drug
reimportation law is "comparing apples to oranges. The medical
marijuana bill puts individual Rhode Island citizens in jeopardy of
federal prosecution, Neal said, which is not the case with the
Canadian drug law. Also, he said, the Canadian drug law gives hundreds
of thousands of Rhode Islanders access to safe drugs that have been
approved for use by the government, while the marijuana bill is aimed
at helping a smaller group of citizens access a banned substance.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin