On Thursday, April 27th, 2023, the Rhode Island House of Representatives made a historic vote for abortion access by passing H 5006, the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act (EACA). The EACA seeks to secure abortion coverage for people enrolled in Medicaid and repeal the abortion coverage exclusion for state employee insurance plans.
Gretchen Raffa, vice president of public policy, advocacy, and organizing at Planned Parenthood Votes! Rhode Island, referred to the vote as "a historic victory in the ongoing fight for reproductive freedom and equity in Rhode Island." She added, "lifting these barriers to abortion coverage is essential to ensuring that people have the autonomy to make the best healthcare decisions for themselves and their families without political interference."
If signed into law, the EACA will impact over 86,000 Rhode Islanders by adding abortion coverage to Rhode Island's Medicaid program and eliminating bans on abortion coverage for state employees and their dependents. Additionally, the EACA will remove abortion coverage bans that have disproportionately harmed marginalized communities with the greatest barriers to healthcare, including Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities, people with low incomes, people living in rural areas, and LGBTQ+ people, particularly trans and nonbinary individuals.
At its core, the EACA is about fairness and equity, ensuring equal coverage for healthcare services in public insurance plans, which is overwhelmingly supported by voters. According to a recent poll, 72% of voters believe that patients enrolled in Medicaid should have the same coverage for abortion as people with private insurance.
The EACA was sponsored by House Majority Whip Representative Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence, Pawtucket) and approved in a vote of 49-24.
“Although we were successful in codifying Roe V. Wade into state law, access to reproductive health is still not equal in our state for all of our residents. Unless an individual is able to pay the costs out of pocket or is on private insurance, these essential health care services are still out of reach for too many Rhode Islanders, including many who do not have significant financial resources. With reproductive rights remaining under attack in Washington, the passage of the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act will provide access for everyone in Rhode Island who needs reproductive health services,” said Kazarian.
Planned Parenthood Votes! Rhode Island is now calling on the state Senate to take swift action in supporting the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act (S32). The legal right to abortion is meaningless if you cannot afford or access the healthcare you need. The EACA will keep people — not politicians — in charge of decisions that affect their bodies.
"While politicians across the country continue to attack reproductive rights and ban abortion outright, we thank our champions in the house, including bill sponsor Whip Kazarian, who voted in support and who continue to fight to expand access to abortion care for people in Rhode Island," said Raffa.
PPV!RI also invites the public to join us in the ongoing fight for reproductive freedom in the state of Rhode Island. We urge you to take immediate action by clicking here, to let your state Senator know that you are calling on them to vote “YES” on the EACA.