State employees and Medicaid recipients in Rhode Island can undergo an abortion and have it covered by state funds now that the governor signed a bill into law allowing it.
Gov. Daniel McKee signed the bill, H 7442, on Thursday. Previous state law mandated that abortion not be included in state health insurance coverage. The bill was not supported by everyone in the state legislature, including by some who identify as “pro-choice” and said their constituents should not have to pay for things they are morally opposed to.
“It is fundamentally wrong to ask the taxpayers to pay for Medicaid abortions and abortion coverage under taxpayer funded state insurance plans … I plan to vote no,” Rep. Charlene Lima (D) previously said. “The taxpayers who have a fundamental belief against abortion are going to have to pay for it. Don’t say the taxpayers aren’t going to pay for it, we know they are.”
In 2019, Rhode Island codified Roe v. Wade into state law. Yet that was not enough for the state’s pro-abortion politicians. “Here in Rhode Island, we will always protect a woman’s right to choose and ensure equal access to these crucial health care services,” Gov. McKee said, according to the Associated Press.
Bridget Valverde, one of the bill’s sponsors, outright said that codifying Roe was not enough. “For so many the right has remained illusive,” she said. “That’s because a right to a health care service is useless if we intentionally prevent people’s health insurance from covering it.”
Polling has consistently shown that taxpayers do not support using government dollars for abortion. “Nearly 7 in 10 Americans believe abortion should be limited,” Dr. Barbara L. Carvalho, Director of a 2023 Marist Poll on the subject, said in a press release. “After a year of contentious public debate over the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, the results are comparable to the findings of a Knights of Columbus–Marist Poll conducted last January.”
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