HealthSource RI

It’s week two of open enrollment on HealthSource RI, the state’s online health insurance marketplace. Existing customers have been automatically re-enrolled. But some may find their plans no longer cover abortion.

Rhode Island now requires every insurer on HealthSource RI to offer options that exclude abortion. Some insurers added new plans to meet the requirement. Some modified old plans. And what happened next was unexpected: 9,000 existing customers were automatically re-enrolled in plans with no abortion coverage. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

A group of Rhode Islanders plan to join a national day of protest Saturday morning against Planned Parenthood.  Rhode Island Right to Life and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence say they will be among those calling on lawmakers to stop public funding for the health care organization.

 The protests come after secretly filmed videos emerged last month of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the use of fetal tissue for medical research. Anti-abortion activists claim the group is using federal funding to illegally traffic body parts.

Thanks for stopping by. The legislative year is almost over -- the traditional part, anyway -- but the political world always keeps spinning. I welcome your tips and thoughts at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and you can follow me through the week on the twitters. Here we go.

A Rhode Islander’s lawsuit against the state’s online health insurance marketplace over abortion coverage has been resolved.  An elective abortion is the termination of a pregnancy at the mother’s request. Until earlier this year, every plan offered on HealthSource RI, the state’s online health insurance marketplace, covered such procedures.

A Rhode Island man sued HealthSource RI, saying his religious beliefs prevented him from paying for insurance that might cover an abortion. Now there’s one plan, at the so-called bronze level – that excludes coverage of elective abortions.

John Bender / RIPR

Former delegates to the 1986 Constitutional Convention are speaking out against the event Rhode Islanders will vote on November 4th. 

1986 was the last time the state held a Constitutional Convention.  The state can hold one once every ten years, pending voter approval.  Delegates are elected to the convention which creates legislation then voted on by the public; bypassing the general assembly.  Critics say the delegates can be easily swayed by special interest groups, because they are not seeking reelection.  Tom Izzo was a delegate in 1986.

As election day nears, luminaries of all stripes are weighing in on the candidates. Now comes Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, with advice for practicing Catholics on how to cast their ballots.

UPDATE: La Salle has decided to remove all the photographs of La Salle alums from the ``Wall of Notables'' reports Tom Mooney at the ProJo.

The school's Board of Trustees voted to take down all of the photos because they had become a distraction to learning, the ProJo reported. On of those photos was of U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, who, like Raimondo is a La Salle alum. There were 25 photos on the notables wall.

My original post from last week:

In a joust that broke little new ground, Ken Block and Cranston Mayor Allan Fung hammered away at each other tonight in a WPRI-Channel 12-Providence Journal televised debate that came a week before their September 9 Republican gubernatorial showdown.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a Massachusetts law meant to keep protesters 35 feet away from abortion clinics is drawing local reaction.

Rhode Island ACLU head Steve Brown says he thinks the court struck the right balance in this ruling, a balance between the right to free speech and the right to have an abortion. He says the court appropriately noted that clinics have other ways of dealing with protestors who cross a line.

file / RIPR

Rhode Island Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin has taken a lot of heat for criticizing Nelson Mandela. Two days after Mandela died Tobin issued a statement calling his legalization of abortion “shameful.”

But now Tobin supporters are speaking out. The anti-abortion American Life League has put out a statement thanking Tobin. The statement said Tobin had the courage to point out the “shameful irony” between Mandela’s promotion of abortion and his stance against apartheid.

Providence Diocese

Bishop Thomas Tobin, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Rhode Island, has issued a statement critical of the late Nelson Mandela.

Mandela died last week after a prolonged battle with a lung infection. He was 95.

In a statement, Tobin said there is much to admire about the South African leader, particularly his personal courage and stalwart defense of human rights.

But Tobin takes issue with Mandela’s support of abortion rights.  Tobin said this aspect of Mandela’s life is, “not at all praiseworthy.”

Rhode Island will not be joining 29 other states that offer anti-abortion license plates.  Gov. Lincoln Chafee vetoed legislation Tuesday that would have created the plates, calling it an inappropriate use of state funding.

Proceeds from the $40 license plates would have gone to a Christian pregnancy clinic called CareNet, where women are advised against getting abortions.  Supporters point out that Massachusetts and Connecticut offer similar plates.

State lawmakers approved the bill, but a three fifths majority is needed to override the governor's veto.

John Bender / RIPR

About 40 people gathered on the south side of the Rhode Island State House Monday evening, chanting and speaking out against recent legislation that passed in Texas which will restrict abortions.

The rally also urged Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee not to sign into law legislation that would allow a “choose life” license plate to be created.  

Money from the plate would go to counseling to dissuade women from getting abortions.

Organizer Lindsay Goss said that though this rally was small, she is already planning for the future.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee is expressing skepticism over the General Assembly’s last-minute license plate legislation that created a special  anti-abortion ‘Choose Life’ plate.

Chafee spokeswomen Christine Hunsinger says the governor has made no decision yet on whether to veto the measure or let it become law but that he is concerned whether ``it is appropriate for money that flows through the Division of Motor Vehicles to go to a religious organization.’’

people carrying signs inside statehouse
Flo Jonic

Former Boston Mayor and Ambassador to the Vatican Ray Flynn was the keynote speaker at a Statehouse event marking the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

Flynn was a guest of Rhode Island Right to Life which stages a protest every year on the anniversary of the controversial ruling.   He told about 200 people assembled that they should take pride in the work they do.