Democratic Rhode Island Gov. Daniel McKee signed a bill on Thursday that allows taxpayer funding to be used to pay for abortion services for “pregnant people” working as state officials, and those who are insured through Medicaid.
The “Equality in Abortion Coverage Act” was introduced in the Rhode Island General Assembly earlier this year to create a way for the state to cover abortions for state employees, as well as those covered under a Medicaid insurance plan and “promote equity in access to reproductive health care,” according to the bill’s text. The bill removed references to women, replacing it with “pregnant persons,” and was signed into law Thursday by McKee, who touted the legislation as “crucial health care,” according to a press release.
“Here in Rhode Island, we will always protect a woman’s right to choose and ensure equal access to these crucial health care services,” McKee said in a press release following the signing. “As Governor, I am proud to sign this bill into law and I was proud to include related funding in my budget proposal this year. Thank you to all the legislative leaders and advocates who worked tirelessly to get this legislation over the finish line.”
The legislation was signed soon after passing the state Senate on Thursday by a 24-12 vote and went into effect immediately upon the governor’s signature. McKee thanked the citizens in the state for fighting for “equity in health care,” according to the press release. McKee’s 2024 budget, introduced in January, includes $622,000 in state funding that is to be designated for abortion services under the new law, according to The Associated Press.
Democratic state Sen. Bridget Valverde, a co-sponsor of the act, told the AP that there was more to do in the state to protect abortion access. “For so many the right has remained illusive,” Valverde said. “That’s because a right to a health care service is useless if we intentionally prevent people’s health insurance from covering it.”
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