Health Care

The Womxn Project pushes Governor and Speaker on EACA

“We formally asked him not to sign the budget until the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act is passed,” said Womxn Project boardmember Emma Gauthier to Uprise RI, right after speaking to the Governor. “We also asked him to sign an executive order that protects people seeking abortion…”

June 27, 2022, 5:03 pm

By Uprise RI Staff

As Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee entered the State House Monday morning, he was met by two dozen members and allies of The Womxn Project who asked him not to sign the 2022 State budget into law until after the General Assembly reconvened and passed the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act (EACA). The EACA would remove the ban on abortion coverage for state employees and people who use Medicaid.

Womxn Project boardmember Emma Gauthier handed Governor McKee a sheet with a list of demands, and the Governor smiled and thanked her, but made his way through the activists, noncommittal.

“We formally asked him not to sign the budget until the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act is passed,” said Gauthier to Uprise RI, right after speaking to the Governor. “We also asked him to sign an executive order that protects people seeking abortion…”

Activists politely knocked on the door of the Governor’s office on the second floor, asking to speak with the Governor about their concerns. They were denied entry and ignored.

They asked the governor’s staff for permission to stand silently in the State Room while the budget was signed. They were refused entry.

So over two dozen people stood in the hallway outside the State Room while inside, the Governor, the Senate President, the Speaker of the House and others celebrated and specified the budget.

Shortly before 1pm, Governor McKee signed the 2022 Budget into law. At times during the video from Capitol TV, you can hear the activists chanting in the hallway:

“Governor Daniel McKee has made public statements about his support for the right to abortion, but now more than ever we need more than pretty words. We need – and we demand – actions,” wrote The Womxn Project in a statement. “Governor McKee, it is not enough to say you protect our rights. We need you to do something about it. Rhode Island voters are done waiting for our elected officials to take action. We are speaking out and showing up – and we will keep showing up at community events and the ballot box to demand a real commitment to reproductive health, rights and justice.”

To that end The Woman Project also asked the Governor to issue an executive order that satisfies the following criteria:

  1. A federal bill is being proposed that would exclude employers from receiving tax breaks if they provide abortion access or support to their employees. We must affirm that in our state that employers will NOT be punished for helping to ensure access to abortion care.
  2. Rhode Island must prohibit any executive department, agency, law enforcement official or public hospital employee from assisting another state’s investigation as it relates to abortion.
  3. Rhode Island prohibits arrest based on civil detainer from another state solely for charges related to abortion. No personal information will be shared with other states for investigations.
  4. We must also protect Rhode Island providers who deliver abortion services from losing their professional licenses as the result of an out-of-state charge.
  5. We should also allow anyone who is sued for receiving, performing or providing support for abortions in other states to countersue for damages and other costs.
  6. Rhode Island is restricted from extraditing someone for providing or supporting access to abortion. We should not participate in the criminalization of someone who did something in Rhode Island that leads to a crime in another state if what they did is legal in Rhode Island and ABORTION IS LEGAL IN OUR STATE – and will remain so!

At the Rhode Island Democratic Party Statewide Endorsement meeting Uprise RI spoke to Governor McKee about the possibility of his signing such an executive order. Though he provided no details or specifics, the Governor stated, “It’s in the works.”

As for a special session to pass the EACA, Uprise RI was present when House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi was asked by members of The Womxn Project about whether or not he would call a special session of the General Assembly to pass the EACA. The Speaker said he’s speaking to his membership about doing so, while touting his pro-choice voting record.

[One correction to the above tweet. There is no 2/3rd’s vote needed to reconvene, there is a 2/3rds vote need to pass the EACA.]

Lastly, The Womxn Project is asking Governor McKee to “direct the health department and other agencies to look into ways to expand provision of abortion, including allowing for additional health professionals to provide care. It is time for the public health community to reaffirm that (Physician Assistant) PAs, (Nurse Professionals) NPs, and (Certified Nurse Midwives) CNMs are capable and qualified to provide abortion care services.”

As of this writing there has been no official statement from the Governor about The Womxn Project demands.

Outside th Rhode Island Democratic Party endorsement meeting
Outside Governor McKee’s office

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