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Competing Mass. Bills Would Affect Access to Abortion Care

Competing Mass. Bills Would Affect Access to Abortion Care

June 16, 2015 — Massachusetts lawmakers have introduced several measures that would affect access to reproductive health care in the state, the CNHI/Gloucester Times reports.

According to the CHNI/Times, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) has not indicated whether he will sign any of the three proposed bills should they pass the state Legislature.

Abortion-Rights Advocates Back Measures To Protect Women, Expand Abortion Access

NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts and abortion-rights groups are supporting legislation that would help to improve access to reproductive health services.

For example, one measure (S 1232) would prohibit state agencies from allocating funding or referring patients to crisis pregnancy centers. The bill is supported by more than a dozen state legislators.

Another measure (H 2070) would require women under age 16 to receive permission from a judge to have an abortion if their parents or legal guardians are unable or unwilling to provide consent for the procedure (Wade, CHNI/Gloucester Times, 6/11). Current state law imposes such requirements for all minors under age 18 (GL 1.XVI.112.12S). The measure is supported by more than 50 state lawmakers.

Megan Amundson, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, said in support of the judicial bypass measure, "We know that requiring young women to consult with their parents does not compel them to do so. It results in them taking desperate measures, such as seeking care out of state or in other ways that might be unsafe."

TRAP Measure

Meanwhile, state Reps. Betty Poirier (R) and John Rogers (D) have introduced a measure (H 2039) that would require clinics that perform at least 10 abortions annually to meet certain licensing criteria. The bill also would subject abortion clinics to inspections.

Poirer said the measure is intended to protect women's health.

However, abortion-rights supporters say clinics in the state do not need additional inspections since they already are safe. They said the "deceptive" bill was designed to restrict access to reproductive health services and could force some physicians and clinics to stop providing abortion care.

Amundson said, "There's no place in our state for policies or facilities that seek to limit access to abortion under the guise of protecting women." She added, "We cannot allow scare tactics and shame to replace medical science and the basic right to health care."

Similarly, Tricia Wajda, spokesperson for the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, said the measure "is an attempt to restrict access to safe, legal abortion" (CHNI/Gloucester Times, 6/11).