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Rhode Island Senate poised to approve expanded abortion access

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Rhode Island Senate is set to vote Thursday on a measure that would allow state funds to be used to pay for health plans that cover state workers and Medicaid recipients seeking abortions.

The measure already cleared the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, and Gov. Daniel McKee, a Democrat, said he would sign the bill into law if it reaches his desk.

The legislation would repeal a current section of state law banning Rhode Island from including any provision that provides coverage for induced abortion in any health insurance contracts with state employees. The current law exempts instances when the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term, or when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

Supporters of the bill said it guarantees that everyone in Rhode Island who needs reproductive health services will have access.

Opponents, including Democratic House Labor Committee Chair Arthur Corvese, have said it’s one thing to end a pregnancy because of rape, incest or the health of the mother, and another to do so because it was unplanned.

The Rhode Island bill follows a pattern that has emerged during the first legislative sessions in most states since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Republicans are moving to make abortion restrictions tougher while Democratic-dominated states are moving to protect access for their residents and residents of other states arriving for care.

The Associated Press