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Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Nellie Gorbea criticizes Governor McKee on reproductive rights at press conference

“We need leadership who is willing to use their power to protect the rights of women and families in Rhode Island,”

By Steve Ahlquist in UpRiseRI

Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, Democratic candidate for Rhode Island Governor, held a press conference Tuesday morning calling on incumbent Governor Daniel McKee to “utilize every tool at his discretion” to get the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act (EACA), legislation that would stop the bans on health coverage for abortion, passed.

“I am tired of hearing excuses from the governor on why this legislation isn’t getting passed,” said Secretary Gorbea. “We need leadership who is willing to use their power to protect the rights of women and families in Rhode Island.”

Last week, over twenty advocacy groups pressed Governor McKee to sign an executive order securing medical coverage for abortion procedures for all Rhode Islanders. Governor McKee failed to take action, saying he has no legal authority to do so by executive order.

It is estimated that as many as one in three potentially pregnant Rhode Islanders are being denied abortion coverage in their healthcare plans due to a law denying such coverage in both state health insurance coverage and Medicare.

“Access to abortion should not be determined by your employment or income,” said State Representative Karen Alzate. “We must make it possible for Rhode Islanders to utilize their health insurance to cover the costs of abortion and other reproductive health care.”

House leadership, including Speaker Joseph Shekarchi, Majority Leader Christopher Blazejewski and Whip Katherine Kazarian, ignored members of the House who pushed for passage of the EACA in the final days of the last legislative session, despite having full knowledge of the United States Supreme Court decision that was released the day after the session ended that overturned Roe v Wade.

House leaders have since floated the idea of a special session to pass the EACA, but Senate President Dominick Ruggerio has stated that he has no interest in a special session this September to revisit the issue.

“Abortion is healthcare– and it should be covered,” said Dr. Pablo Rodriguez, an OBGYN who led Planned Parenthood Rhode Island for many years. “Governors are the last lines of defense in the fight to protect abortion access – and Nellie Gorbea is the only candidate for governor we can trust to protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions.”

Secretary Gorbea, who is endorsed by EMILY’s List, called on fellow Democratic candidates running for governor to commit to fully funding the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act. Other Democratic candidates for Governor, including Luis Daniel Muñoz, Matt Brown and Helena Foulkes and have also called for the passage of the EACA. Governor McKee says he supports the measure, but did not included it in his proposed 2022 state budget.

Gorbea has come under some criticism for supporting anti-abortion candidates, such as former Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello, who for many years used his position to block meaningful progress on reproductive healthcare. See: Protecting abortion rights is a fight, not a political game by Nina Wolff Landau