With Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and Majority Leader Ryan Pearson voting in their ex officio capacity, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act, 7-6.

The full Senate is slated to vote on the bill Thursday. If approved, it would go to the desk of Gov. Dan McKee, since the Rhode Island House already voted in favor of the legislation.

The Judiciary Committee vote came in a brief meeting ahead of the Senate session. During a lengthy hearing last week, supporters and opponents of abortion rights squared off, with opponents saying abortions are already available to women, and supporters pointing to cost as a factor for some.

“We should trust every Rhode Isalnder to make their own decisions about their bodies and about when they become a parent or add to their families,” an activist group, The Womxn Project, said in a statement. “This is not something the government should meddle with. When people can’t afford care because they are denied benefits that takes away their right to make their own decision. We are thrilled that today the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act took a huge step forward as it passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In an email to constituents earlier this week, Senate Minority Leader Jessica de la Cruz of North Smithfield said that with passage of the EACA, “It is probable that a legal dispute will arise under Article 1 Section 2 of the Rhode Island Constitution, which explicitly states, ‘Nothing in this section shall be construed to grant or secure any right relating to abortion or the funding thereof.’ "

Besides Ruggerio and Pearson, the other votes in favor came from Judiciary Chair Dawn Euer of Newport and Sens. Mark McKenney of Warwick, Ana Quezada of Providence, Matthew LaMountain of Warwick and John Burke of West Warwick. Voting against were de la Cruz, Senate Whip Gordon Rogers of Foster and Sens. Leo Raptakis of Coventry, Frank Lombardi of Cranston, Anthony DeLuca of Warwick, and David Tilkoian of Smithfield.

“I view this legislation as a simple insurance equity measure,” Ruggerio said in a statement after the vote. “The bottom line for me is that I want state employees and individuals on Medicaid to have access to the same health insurance benefits as all other Rhode Islanders.”

The General Assembly passed a state-based law to protect abortion rights in 2019, as grassroots activism prompted action ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court’s move to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

Ian Donnis can be reached at idonnis@ripr.org. Follow him on Twitter @IanDon. Sign up here for his weekly RI politics and media newsletter.