House Passes Whip Kazarian’s Equality in Abortion Coverage Act


            STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives passed Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian’s (D-Dist. 63, East Providence, Pawtucket) Equality in Abortion Coverage Act tonight.

            The legislation (2023-H 5006) will ensure that individuals on Medicaid and state health insurance plans have coverage for abortion procedures.

           “While I am grateful that Rhode Island has codified Roe V. Wade into state law, access to reproductive health is still not equal in our state.  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.  With reproductive rights remaining under attack in our nation’s capital, the passage of the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act will provide total equality for everyone in Rhode Island who needs reproductive health services access,” said Whip Kazarian.

            The legislation would eliminate sections of law that expressly prohibit state employees’ and Medicaid recipients’ insurance from covering for abortion, except in cases of rape or incest or where the life of the mother would be endangered, as required by federal law. In compliance with the federal Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of abortion services, it adds language that specifies that no federal funds shall be used to pay for them, except as authorized under federal law.

           Cosponsors of the legislation are Reps. Edith H. Ajello (D-Dist. 1, Providence), Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket), Leonela Felix (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket), House Majority Leader Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence), Reps. Kathleen A. Fogarty (D-Dist. 35, South Kingstown), Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett), Jason Knight (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren), Joshua J. Giraldo (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls) and Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport).

The bill would add Rhode Island to the ranks of 16 states, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Maine, whose Medicaid programs cover abortion.

Whip Kazarian also notes that this is the only medical procedure that is carved out of the state laws regarding health insurance coverage.  She adds that excluding state employees and low-income patients from having insurance coverage for reproductive health services is unfair and wrong.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration where Sen. Bridget G. Valverde (D-Dist. 35, North Kingstown, East Greenwich, South Kingstown) has introduced the legislation (2023-S 0032).