Rhode Island governor signs bill that would cover abortions for state workers, Medicaid recipients

Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee (D) on Thursday signed into law on Thursday a bill that would let state funds pay for health insurance coverage for state employees and Medicaid recipients that cover abortions.

“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 wrote on Twitter, sharing a photo of the signing. “I’m proud to sign the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act into law and include related funding in my budget proposal.”

The new law cuts out existing sections that had prohibited Rhode Island’s Medicaid and state-worker health insurance from covering abortions except in the case of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother, according to a release from the legislature. State workers and Medicaid recipients have previously had to pay fully out-of-pocket for abortion care.

Rhode Island joins more than a dozen other states whose Medicaid programs now cover abortion, according to the release.

The bill passed the state Senate 24-12 after clearing the state House 49-24.

“The purpose of Medicaid is to expand access to health care, not to limit it,” Rhode Island Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos said. “I’m proud that after years of work, the passage of the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act has eliminated unjust restrictions on who can afford to access reproductive health care in Rhode Island.”

A group of House Democrats earlier this year reintroduced a proposal at the federal level that would require government sponsored health programs, like Medicaid, to provide coverage of abortion services.

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