AUSTIN, Texas — A new bill is bringing abortion access and emergency contraception back into the spotlight. State Senator Sarah Eckhardt (D-Austin) is one of the lawmakers supporting the bill called Rosie’s Law.
Rosie’s Law is named after a McAllen, Texas mother who died from an unsafe abortion in 1977. Organizers say that Medicaid would not cover her care at her local clinic.
“Texas does not require insurance carriers, including Medicaid, to cover prescription contraception or voluntary sterilization,” said Sen. Eckhardt, “and now with a near total ban on abortion, the consequences of not having access to these health care services are even higher.”
The bill would require Medicaid and private insurance to provide full coverage of emergency contraceptives, vasectomies, and abortion care. Organizers say over 3.5 million Texas women with private insurance are unable to access complete reproductive healthcare due to barriers.
State Representative Sheryl Cole (D-Austin) says Rosie’s Law would directly help poor and low-income people.
“I find Rosie’s Law to bring equitable, affordable, health care to the communities that are often forgotten in our state,” said Cole, “Our state’s anti-abortion restrictions have already hit low-income people, women of color, rural Texans, immigrants and young people.”
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Dr. John Seago is the president of Texas Right to Life. He says he’s not in favor of moving backward, which he believes this bill does.
“Now in Texas, we acknowledge the right to life for every Texan whether they are in the womb or outside the womb. One thing we’re seeing in Texas is a lot of bills that are trying to undo that progress, and that’s what this bill is,” said Seago.
Seago acknowledges more should be done to help low-income people access medical and child care.
“We’re supporting the Speaker's push to have one year of Medicaid coverage for Texas moms after giving birth and not all of our friends are with that but that’s something we're pushing for,” said Seago.
Abortion funds, like Texas Equal Access Fund, want more options.
Madison Crip, the group's community organizer, believes this bill fills in some of the missing care gaps.
“Abortion is health care, and my abortion allowed me to take control over my future and truly thrive. Rosie Mendez was not as fortunate and ultimately died due to unsafe abortion.”
Rep. Cole told CBS Austin that she hopes to work with more of her legislative colleagues to draw support for the bill.