Rhode Island state legislators voted down legislation that would have protected abortion rights by enshrining the principles of Roe v. Wade in state law.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 5 to 4 on Tuesday to reject the Senate version of the legislation, which was firmly opposed by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, the Providence Journal reports. Proponents of the legislation may try to attach it to other bills in the near future.
Pro-choice and pro-life demonstrators crowded outside the hearing room, with the former chanting "shame, shame" and "vote them out," while the latter cheered.
"I feel really happy and am thankful for all the people who showed up here," Ana Delgado, a pro-life demonstrator, said. "As a woman, we also care about the women. The women and babies."
Harold Metts, a Democratic state senator, opposed the legislation on biblical grounds.
"For me, it's biblical, it's ethical and a spiritual issue because Genesis 1:27 is clear: We are all made in God's image and to keep a baby from being born is to rob God of the glory He deserves from that child," Metts said.
Other senators feared the legislation could potentially allow abortions up the final two months of pregnancy.
Stephen Archambault, the Democratic senator who cast the deciding vote, wants to see newly drafted bill which would limit late-term abortions only to cases where the mother's life was at risk or her health risked "grave impairment."
The House-passed version of the bill, which is in limbo, permits abortion without government interference "prior to fetal viability," but prohibits abortion beyond that point "except when necessary, in the medical judgment of the physician, to preserve the life or health of that individual."
Also on Tuesday, the Alabama Senate passed a bill banning nearly all abortions, sending it to the governor's desk where it awaits a signature. Under the law, abortions would be legal only if the mother's life was threatened or in the case of a lethal fetal abnormality.