To the editor:
I’m dismayed to see the letter from Jean Ernster in last week’s paper; while I appreciate that Ms. Ernster has a personal objection to abortion, her letter is filled …
To the editor:
I’m dismayed to see the letter from Jean Ernster in last week’s paper; while I appreciate that Ms. Ernster has a personal objection to abortion, her letter is filled with mistruths and distortions, which unfortunately have become mainstream in the anti-abortion movement.
First: The majority of citizens do NOT oppose abortion services for those on Medicaid, what Ms. Ernster calls “taxpayer funded abortions.” Research conducted in 2019 shows a significant majority (62%) supports Medicaid coverage of abortion, while a small minority (27%) opposes.
Second: the Reproductive Privacy Act (RPA), which Ms. Ernster referred to as the “Health Care Privacy Act,” does NOT allow for “abortion-on-demand for any reason and throughout all nine months of pregnancy” nor does it “removed safeguards that prevented late-term abortions.” This is simply not true. The RPA codifies Roe (and subsequent legal decisions) in RI State law. No more, no less. When our General Assembly passed this important protection into law in 2019, they correctly predicted the current national erosion of the right to abortion, and in doing so, protected abortion in Rhode Island.
What wasn’t achieved in 2019 was equity. Today over 300,000 Rhode Islanders don’t have access to abortions because their insurance (Medicaid and the State of RI’s health insurance plan) doesn’t provide coverage. Regardless of whether she has private or government-funded health insurance, every woman should be able to get the full range of reproductive healthcare, including annual screenings, birth control, pregnancy tests, and abortion. The amount of money a woman has or does not have should not determine whether she can get healthcare services, including abortion.
I, for one, am grateful for the leadership of Rep Cassar in sponsoring this bill, and to Reps Knight, Speakman, and Donovan of the East Bay, and Senator Coyne for co-sponsoring. Each of us should be able to live, work, and make decisions about our health and our future with dignity and respect. Women must be able to make decisions about their own reproductive healthcare, including whether and when to have children (one of the most important life decisions we make) no matter how much they earn.
Ms. Jellinek is chair of the RI Coalition for Reproductive Freedom.