When someone needs healthcare should they have to scramble to find the money?  No.  Should we put people in a position where they would decide between paying rent or buying groceries and getting a service that they need? No.  But that is what is happening.

Whether it is limits on access to contraception or the policies that take away health coverage for abortion, there are very real barriers that need to be addressed if we are to ensure not only bodily autonomy, but also health equity.  As we work to end systemic racism in our state, we must end disparities in access to healthcare – including laws that deny people control over decisions about their bodies and future.

The first person to die of an unsafe illegal abortion after Roe was a Latina.  Rosie Jimenez could not afford care from a safe, licensed provider. She was refused coverage from Medicaid because of a federal policy called the Hyde Amendment, which withholds health benefits for abortion. Rhode Island has a similar policy on our books. The aim is to make services unaffordable and it has worked to the detriment and danger of women and families.

State lawmakers can take a stand and take care of these discriminatory limits by passing the “Equality in Abortion Coverage Act” this year. This bill eliminates these harmful bans on coverage.  Whether it is a public or private program, health insurance should cover the full range of care that we need to prevent unintended pregnancy, to build our families and have a healthy pregnancy, and to seek safe abortion care when we need to.

The author is the Executive Director of The Womxn Project

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