Rhode Island House Speaker Nichols Mattiello and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio remain non-committal on a proposal to extend abortion coverage to state employee healthcare plans and to ensure that abortion is covered by Medicaid.

The bill, sponsored in the House by Rep. Liana Cassar (D-Barrington), and in the Senate by Sen. Bridget Valverde (D-North Kingstown), was introduced last week. 

The sponsors say the measure would remove sections of law that prevent state employees and Medicaid recipients insurance from covering abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or where the life of the mother is in jeopardy.  

In a statement, Cassar said the bill “has strong support in both chambers because our colleagues understand that access to safe, legal abortion includes economic access. “Access to healthcare services is determined in most cases by an individual’s health insurance. Right now, there are people for whom there is a barrier to access to abortion solely as a result of their insurance coverage. Ensuring that Medicaid and state insurance plans cover abortion ensures equal access to health services so that people have the opportunity to make their own choices about their lives and their families.”

The lawmakers say Medicaid covers abortion in 16 states, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Maine.

In separate statements, Mattiello and Ruggerio avoided expressing a view on the bill while saying it will go through the committee process.

Last year, Ruggerio and Mattiello allowed a bill to guarantee abortion rights in Rhode Island to advance and win passage in the House and Senate, while personally voting against it. Opponents of abortion rights remain upset by how legislative leaders tacitly supported the measure.