By: Ellie Romano

Twitter: Ellie_Romano



PROVIDENCE, RI (WLNE) - A controversial abortion rights bill continues to make its way through the Rhode Island Senate. 

The Reproductive Privacy Act has been making headlines for weeks. The bill would preserve the rights established under the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision on a state level.

The bill failed in committee in May during a 5-4 vote.

The revised version of the bill was scheduled for a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday night. 

However, just as the bill was heading for a vote, Republican Senate leaders arrived in the room to exercise their 'ex officio' capacity, in an effort to sway the vote.

"Both the Republicans and Democrats have a leader and a whip which are ex–officio, and they can vote on any and all committees at any given time," explained Senator Joshua Miller (D-RI).

To try and keep the bill alive, Senate Judiciary Chair Erin Lynch Prata (D-RI) sent the bill to a different committee for review.

"It was not something we were expecting," said Craig O'Conner with Planned Parenthood. 

Senator Miller said ex-officio votes aren't regular, but do happen. He is the Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee which is now handling the bill. He expects it to pass.

"We have 9 people on the committee. I think at least 6 of them, maybe 7 of them, are on record as supporters of the legislation," said Miller.

The Health and Human Services Committee will vote on the bill on Thursday night, which is something pro-life supporters are worried about. 

"The vote is up in the air," said Pawtucket resident George Bedford. "Human life is precious and starts in the mother's womb."

If the legislation passes, the bill could see a full senate vote next week.

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