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Euer and Kazarian introduce bills to protect access to reproductive health care



“Freedom and full equality cannot be achieved until we have the opportunity to control our lives at the most basic level: planning our families, our health care, and our life’s paths,” said Rhode Island State Senator Dawn Euer (Democrat, District 13, Newport, Jamestown). “Largely due to expanded access to birth control, we are at the lowest rate of unintended pregnancy in 30 years and a historic low of pregnancy among teens. Birth control is not controversial – it is basic health care.”

Euer was speaking in the library of the Rhode Island State House, announcing, with Rhode Island State Representative Katherine Kazarian (Democrat, District 63, East Providence) bills that would protect access to contraception in Rhode Island, regardless of what happens nationally as regards defunding women’s health care and efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“The Trump-Pence administration has been working to infringe on our freedoms and take away rights, including birth control,” said Kazarian. “Rhode Island must stand up for its residents and protect access to basic health care, including comprehensive reproductive health care services.”

H7625 and S2529 would “ensure affordability and accessibility of the most effective forms of contraception, including long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) options such as IUDs and implants. It would also protect the current $0 cost-sharing for contraception by preserving in Rhode Island law the ACA provision that says birth control is a preventive health care service,” writes the Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Rights (RICRF), a coalition of organizations seeking protect and advance access to reproductive health care. “If passed, health care providers would be able to prescribe birth control up to a full year at a time, and would ensure it is covered without co-pay.”

“Over the past year, the Trump-Pence administration has been relentlessly attacking reproductive health care and enacting dangerous policies to impose their beliefs around birth control on everyone,” said Craig O’Connor, Rhode Island Director of Public Policy and Government Relations with Planned Parenthood Votes! Rhode Island. “We call upon Speaker Nicholas Mattiello (Democrat, District 15, Cranston) and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (Democrat, District 4, Providence) to act on this important legislation in order to protect birth control coverage and the basic right for people in Rhode Island to control their own bodies. We must act now to protect access to birth control in Rhode Island.”

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Birth control is the first important step woman must take toward the goal of her freedom. It is the first step she must take to be man’s equal. It is the first step they must both take toward human emancipation,” said Hilary Levey Freidman, President of the Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization for Women, quoting birth control activist, sex educator, writer and nurse Margaret Sanger.

“Access to birth control powers women’s educational successes, which impacts their earnings, especially in professional occupations, like medicine and the law. It also reduces teen pregnancy by an estimated 86 percent, and perhaps most significantly, has intergenerational benefits,” continued Levey Freidman. “Yet the ACA – and the provision that makes most contraception available to women for $0 co-pay – is under attack. Just as states have acted with respect to birth control before, we must act to protect Rhode Island women.”

“Contraception is an essential preventative health measure and is medically necessary. Reliable contraception allows women to control if and when they become pregnant,” said Emily White, MD, Chair of the Rhode Island Section of American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). “Birth control is safer than many over the counter medications. Making women go to the pharmacy every month to pick up their pills is unnecessary and burdensome. ACOG supports supplying 12 months of hormonal contraception to improve contraceptive continuation.”

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.