The Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus voted unanimously at its February 25 meeting to ask Senator Cynthia Coyne (Democrat, District 32, Barrington), Chair of the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee, to exercise her unilateral power to send S0267 from her committee to the Senate Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee. After the vote, Women’s Caucus Chair Liz Gledhill sent Senator Coyne an email explaining the position of the caucus.
S0267 would “provide for abortion coverage in the Medicaid program and repeal the abortion coverage exclusion for state employee insurance plans.” At Tuesday evening’s meeting of the Rhode Island Senate, Senator Bridget Valverde (District 35, North Kingstown, Narragansett) objected to the Seante President’s decision to send S0267 to the Senate Judiciary Committee instead of to the Senate Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee. The Senate voted 15-22 that abortion is not healthcare
- RI Senate votes that abortion is not healthcare
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In their letter to Senator Coyne, the Women’s Caucus said that they firmly believe that:
- The HHS Committee and not the Judiciary committee is the one that routinely deals with bills involving health care and Medicaid, and abortion is health care and should be treated as such;
- The Judiciary Committee consists of a majority of members who are anti-choice and will not pass the bill to the entire Senate for a vote;
- The HHS Committee has a majority of pro-choice members who would pass the bill for a floor vote; and
- S0267 currently has 21 sponsors in the Senate – enough to pass the bill.
“We believe all elected officials who are registered Democrats have a duty to uphold the tenets of the Democratic Party platform, and as such, take measures to provide access to safe and legal abortion to all constituents,” write the Women’s Caucus to Senator Coyne. “As an endorsed Democratic Senator, we hope that you will exercise your power as Chair of the Judiciary Committee to transfer S0267 from Judiciary to the HHS Committee.”