Senate hears bill to solidify R.I.’s status as a sanctuary state for abortion, transgender care


PROVIDENCE — The Rhode Island Senate voted 29 to 7 on Thursday, May 2, in favor of Bill SB2262, also known as the Healthcare Provider Shield Act. Proposed before the Senate by Sen. Dawn Euer of District 13 (Newport, Jamestown), the bill sought to solidify Rhode Island’s status as a sanctuary state for those seeking medical treatment associated with abortion or transgender-related care.
The bill more specifically calls for access to transgender or abortion-related medical procedures as a “legal right” in the state of Rhode Island. It further goes on to declare that any citizen in a state that prohibits abortion or transgender-related care to those seeking to obtain, procure or pay for such procedures in the state of Rhode Island cannot be legally prosecuted by their home state, with such litigation being declared an “interference of the free exercise and enjoyment of the rights secured by this act” and “a violation of the public policy of this state.”
Rhode Island courts are thus not obliged to enforce the decision of a court of another state against an individual who seeks, pays for or procures abortion or transgender-related care in the state of Rhode Island. This includes, according to the bill, a prohibition on Rhode Island courts issuing orders for the collecting of information on non-Rhode Islanders who seek or procure such procedures in the state of Rhode Island, as well as prohibiting any public or law enforcement agency in Rhode Island from cooperating with, or providing information or resources to, a public or law enforcement agency of a state where abortion or transgender-related care is not legal.
The bill further specifies that this prohibition does not include lawsuits or legal decisions enforced or entered into in another state against medical misconduct if such actions would constitute a crime or a form of misconduct according to Rhode Island law.
“What this is doing is it’s providing a protection for healthcare providers who are licensed in the state of Rhode Island,” Sen. Euer said during the Senate hearing, citing as the two main motivations for the bill a desire to protect the legal rights of those seeking or procuring abortion and transgender-related medical care and to uphold the political autonomy of the state of Rhode Island.
Rhode Island is one of 25 states where abortion is legal. Abortion is also legal in Washington, D.C., as well as in two American territories, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Since 2022, Rhode Island law has also designated this state as a sanctuary state, that is, a state where citizens from other parts of the country can receive an abortion without being subject to criminal penalties in their own state.
“S2262 and other so-called shield laws are designed to protect the abortion industry and encourage abortion providers to disregard protective pro-life laws in other states,” said Barth Bracy, the executive director of the Rhode Island Right to Life. “These laws undermine our Constitution in order to create a safe haven for bad actors. How does it help women to give abortionists blanket immunity for alleged crimes?”