FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Wednesday, July 13, 2022
- Read the multi-organization sign-on letter.
- Read the frequently asked question around gubernatorial executive orders as a public health tool.
Jocelyn Foye, Director
On behalf of members from the Campaign for Equal Abortion Coverage
Advocates Call on Governor McKee to Take Continued Action for Abortion Access
More than 20 groups are urging the governor to use every tool he has to ensure the right we worked so hard to protect is not taken away and improve access for low-income people.
[Providence, RI] – Statement from members of the Campaign for Equal Abortion Coverage on the public launch of a second letter urging the governor to do more to ensure access to abortion in this critical moment:
“We are grateful that the governor heeded the call to action to protect people who provide or seek abortions and those who support people in obtaining care from being harmed by laws from other states that seek to criminalize care. This was an important step. The fact remains that this is an unprecedented moment, and we must do more than push back on the dangerous and discriminatory dragnet being created by abortion bans. We must do all we can to ensure access to timely, affordable, compassionate abortion care when people need it.
Today, 26 groups from across the state are coming together to urge Governor McKee to sign a second executive order to direct the state employee health plan and the state Medicaid program to include health coverage for abortion. State legislation has been introduced for the past several years that would stop these bans, but despite the importance of passing these laws, our legislators have failed to enact them.
Including this coverage has been found to be cost neutral, so there is no economic reason for withholding these benefits – and as has been stated in many instances, there is very real harm in taking away insurance coverage for abortion: harm to the health of individuals and families, as well as their financial stability. There is in fact a health and economic case to be made in favor of making this important change, but more than that it will prevent the very real harm that is caused by withholding insurance benefits and pushing care out of reach for many low-income people.
Denying an abortion by taking away affordable access to care creates economic hardship and insecurity which lasts for years:
- A recent study found that folks who are turned away and went on to give birth experienced an increase in household poverty lasting at least four years relative to those who received an abortion.
- Years after an abortion denial, people were more likely to not have enough money to cover basic living expenses like food, housing and transportation.
- Being denied an abortion lowered a woman’s credit score, increased a woman’s amount of debt and increased the number of their negative public financial records, such as bankruptcies and evictions
- People who are turned away from getting an abortion are more likely to stay in contact with a violent partner. They are also more likely to raise the resulting child alone.
- Physical violence from the man involved in the pregnancy decreased for women who received abortions but not for the women who were denied abortions and gave birth.
As the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic ramped up in March 2020, governors across the United States issued executive orders to help address safety and health concerns. This, however, is not the only time that gubernatorial executive orders (GEOs) have been utilized to address health concerns, improve access to health services, or strengthen the efficiency of state operated programs like public insurance plans.
It is not enough to say we protect the right if we do not ensure access and make sure that people who need care can get it regardless of the type of insurance they use. We are asking Governor McKee to put out a second executive order to ensure that discriminatory bans on health coverage for abortion do not prevent low-income Rhode Islanders from accessing abortion, which is protected as a right under state law.
These are unprecedented times – and the bans on health coverage for abortion have always impeded access to an essential health service, caused financial hardship and gaps in affordability of care specifically within public health programs, and caused great harm, especially for people who already struggle to obtain health services. The current policies fuel health inequity and push the right to abortion away from people struggling to make ends meet.
We are calling on the governor to use every possible tool to ensure access to abortion. It may not be typical, but there is strong precedent that it can be done and the people of Rhode Island need the governor and his administration to do all they can to step into this moment and step up for the people of our state. Don’t tell us to wait for next year. No more waiting. It is time to halt the bans on health coverage and direct public health programs to include coverage for abortion. We must act urgently as if our lives depend on it, because they do.”
Jocelyn Foye and representatives from the groups signed on to the letter are available for interview upon request.
Rhode Island organizations calling for Governor McKee to put out a second gubernatorial executive order to halt bans on health coverage for abortion in state health insurance programs:
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- Amnesty International – Providence chapter
- BLM RI PAC
- Brown College Democrats
- COYOTE RI
- Economic Progress Institute
- Haus of Codec
- Latino Policy Institute
- LGBT Action RI
- League of Women Voters of Rhode Island
- Medical Students for Choice of Brown University Alpert Medical School
- Party for Socialism and Liberation
- Physicians for a National Health Program – RI Chapter
- Protect Our Healthcare Coalition RI
- Reclaim RI
- Rhode Island Academy of Family Physicians
- RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- RI Democratic Women’s Caucus
- RI NOW
- SISTA Fire
- South County Huddle
- SURJ – Rhode Island
- The Womxn Project
- Unitarian Universalist Congregation of South County – Social Justice Team
- Women & Infants Hospital
- Women’s Fund of Rhode Island