Proposed expansion of abortion rights reignites statewide debate

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — In his budget state budget proposal last week, Gov. Dan McKee outlined more than $600,000 of expanded abortion coverage for state employees and those on Medicaid.

McKee also encouraged the General Assembly to move quickly on abortion legislation, including the Equality in Abortion Act. This bill eliminates all bans on abortion coverage statewide.

“My anticipation is they do it quickly and early in the session so that we can focus on the other budget issues that will drive economic outcomes, academic outcomes, and health outcomes for everybody,” McKee told ABC 6 Monday.

Meanwhile, Republican leaders in Rhode Island believe the proposed legislation stretches abortion rights too far.

“We already provide abortion coverage to state workers and those on Medicaid under instances of rape, incest, and life of the mother,” said Senate Minority Leaders Jessica de la Cruz. “For Rhode Islanders to pay for a procedure that is not necessary — but an elected procedure — that’s where Rhode Islanders have an issue.”

The Supreme Court of the United States historically overturned Roe v. Wade this summer. However, abortion rights granted under the original ruling are codified in Rhode Island.

De la Cruz explained, “[Republicans are] simply against expanding coverage for elected procedures that women can pay for if they so choose. I hear it all the time, ‘You can have your abortion but don’t ask me to pay for it.’ That is the sentiment I am hearing.”

McKee’s proposed budget requires a two thirds majority to pass both the House and Senate.

Democrats like Rep. Edith Ajello say they will remain vigilant in expanding abortion coverage to all.

She asked, “Who’s to say that the physical or mental health of that person or that person’s family is more important than $600,000?”

Legislation to expand abortion rights are in both the House and Senate.

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