Press Release

Press Release  Governor Healey Announces Immediate Action to Protect Access to Medication Abortion in Massachusetts

For immediate release:
4/10/2023
  • Governor Maura Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll
  • Executive Office of Health and Human Services

Media Contact for Governor Healey Announces Immediate Action to Protect Access to Medication Abortion in Massachusetts

Karissa Hand, Press Secretary

Boston — Following a federal court ruling in Texas in the case of Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food & Drug Administration that blocked the FDA's approval of the abortion medication mifepristone, Massachusetts Governor Maura T. Healey announced steps that the state is taking to protect access to care. At the Governor’s request, the University of Massachusetts and health care providers have taken action to stockpile doses of mifepristone, and the Governor is issuing an Executive Order confirming protections for medication abortion under existing state law. 

“Medication abortion is safe, effective and legal. Mifepristone has been used safely for more than 20 years and is the gold standard. Here in Massachusetts, we are not going to let one extremist judge in Texas turn back the clock on this proven medication and restrict access to care in our state,” said Governor Healey. “The action we are taking today protects access to mifepristone in Massachusetts and protects patients and providers from liability. In Massachusetts, we stand for civil rights and freedom. We will always protect access to reproductive health care, including medication abortion.” 

“Our administration is grateful for the partnership of UMass and health care providers across the state who readily agreed to take this urgent action to protect access to care,” said Lieutenant Governor Kimberley Driscoll. “We’re also grateful for the hard work of legislators, advocates and the public health community who rallied to pass protections after the Dobbs decision last year. These efforts ensured we had the option to take this meaningful action to protect access to medication abortion.” 

At Governor Healey’s request, the University of Massachusetts Amherst last week purchased approximately 15,000 doses of mifepristone to ensure sufficient coverage in the state for more than a year. The doses are expected to arrive this week. Health care providers in Massachusetts have also agreed to purchase additional quantities to make available for patients. The Healey-Driscoll Administration is also dedicating $1 million to support providers contracted with Department of Public Health with paying for these doses.  

“We are pleased to answer the Governor’s call to provide this vital assistance to the Commonwealth,” said Marty Meehan, President of Umass and Kumble Subbaswamy, Chancellor of Umass Amherst. “Helping to ensure access to safe, effective, reproductive healthcare for the residents of Massachusetts is fully aligned with UMass Amherst’s longstanding mission to serve the Commonwealth.” 

Additionally, Governor Healey is issuing an Executive Order confirming that the 2022 Shield Law should be interpreted as protecting access to medication abortion, including mifepristone. This will ensure that providers, including pharmacists, can continue to stock and dispense mifepristone and will protect providers and patients from criminal and civil liability for accessing this essential care. The Executive Order also instructs the Department of Public Health and Division of Insurance to issue guidance to help implement the order and requires the Department of Public Health to provide support to public universities and colleges to expedite development and implementation of their medication abortion readiness plans.  

In addition to abortion care, mifepristone is also used for miscarriage management, to treat lupus, and to reduce the risk of ulcers, among many other medical uses.  
 

Statements of Support  

Senator Elizabeth Warren:  

“Since the Supreme Court gutted Roe, Massachusetts has stepped up to protect reproductive freedom, including the right to an abortion. Now, following the latest attempt from an extremist judge to block access to mifepristone, the Commonwealth will continue to ensure this medication remains safe, legal, and available. Alongside Governor Healey’s administration and partners, I'll keep fighting to protect abortion care and a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body.” 

Senator Ed Markey:  

“This desperate attempt to undermine health care access for millions of Americans is the next phase in Republicans’ malicious campaign to outlaw abortion nationwide. For decades, experts have determined that Mifepristone is tested, safe and scientifically sound. That has not changed. This unprecedented decision undermines the expert-driven approval process for medications that Americans rely on. We will not back down in the face of the persistent radical right-wing assault on health care access. Massachusetts will continue to lead the nation in guaranteeing every person their fundamental freedom to get the health care they need.”  

Congresswoman Katherine Clark:  

“MAGA Republicans have decided that Americans do not deserve personal freedom – that judges and politicians should make our most intimate life decisions. They want a nationwide abortion ban where no one will be protected from their extreme and dangerous power grab - and this decision brings us one step closer to that dark reality. Democrats will not allow extremists to relegate women to second-class citizenship, and I am grateful that Governor Healey continues to ensure that Massachusetts remains a beacon of freedom, safety, and dignity for all.”  

Congressman Stephen Lynch: 

“I am closely reviewing the recent district court decision in Texas to suspend FDA approval of mifepristone. Regardless of the legal proceedings, mifepristone was approved by the FDA two decades ago and has been a safe and effective medication as a form of reproductive health care. While I am deeply concerned of the ramifications of this ruling nationwide, I am grateful for Governor Healey’s leadership and prompt response to protect access to mifepristone in the Commonwealth.” 

Congressman James McGovern: 

 “This reckless decision by a Trump-appointed judge in Texas is yet another disgusting MAGA power grab. The medical experts who work at the FDA have the authority to determine a drug’s safety—not an extremist federal judge. I am grateful that here in Massachusetts, the Healey-Driscoll Administration remains committed to protecting access to abortion. As a proud member of the Pro-Choice Caucus, I will never stop fighting for reproductive freedom, including medication abortion. I look forward to the decision in this case being aggressively challenged so that freedom is protected for every American.” 

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley:  

“This unprecedented attack on our bodily autonomy demands bold leadership, at every level of government, that meets the moment and we must use every tool available to protect our fundamental right to abortion care. Governor Healey’s plan to protect mifepristone access in Massachusetts is exactly the type of proactive leadership this moment calls for, and will go a long way to keeping this routine form of health care available to Massachusetts residents. As we continue fighting federally to affirm abortion care as the human right that it is, I'm grateful to Governor Healey, Lt. Governor Driscoll, Attorney General Campbell, and our colleagues for their partnership.” 

Congresswoman Lori Trahan: 

“We will not let the overreach of anti-abortion extremists cross into Massachusetts, and we will not allow our daughters to grow up with fewer rights than we did. I’m grateful to Governor Healey, Lieutenant Governor Driscoll, Attorney General Campbell, and Senate President Spilka for their swift and substantial response to the most recent assault on reproductive rights. Our federal delegation is committed to doing everything in our power to bolster those efforts and to finally codify abortion rights for every woman in America.” 

Congressman Seth Moulton:  

“This attempt by a Trump-appointed judge to suspend a critical FDA-approved abortion medication is yet another slap in the face to women and families across the country who already face limited or no other options to safely make decisions about their own bodies. I’m proud that Massachusetts respects reproductive rights and that the Healey administration is standing up to protect women. We will keep fighting until reproductive rights are no longer under threat.”  

Congressman Jake Auchincloss:  

“Massachusetts is not going to let Texas set the agenda for women’s health care. I will not stop fighting to protect a woman’s right to choose.” 

Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell: 

“As we find ourselves responding to the latest anti-science and anti-democratic right-wing attempt to curtail abortion access, I am proud to join the Healey-Driscoll Administration to ensure continued access to medication abortion, including mifepristone, in Massachusetts. This Executive Order meets this unprecedented moment of national uncertainty by directing state agencies to take important steps to ensure continued access to medication abortion, including mifepristone, in Massachusetts. We are fortunate to have already enacted the strongest, most comprehensive shield law in the country to protect abortion patients and providers, and today’s announcement once again shows that Massachusetts will lead the way in ensuring access to abortion and reproductive healthcare.”  

House Speaker Ron Mariano: 

“From codifying Roe into state law, to expanding access to reproductive healthcare services in the wake of the Dobbs decision, Massachusetts has long responded to conservative efforts to restrict women’s rights by acting to protect and expand those rights). Governor Healey’s announcements today will protect access to abortion medication and represent the Commonwealth’s continued commitment to ensuring that women in Massachusetts will not have their rights rolled back. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in the Legislature, the Administration, and advocates from across the Commonwealth on this critical issue.” 

Senate President Karen E. Spilka:   

“I’d like to thank Governor Healey for her quick response to this latest attack on our reproductive rights. It is awe-inspiring to see our state and federal officials, along with our state university system and healthcare providers, mobilize so quickly to provide potentially life-saving access to essential medication, and the Senate stands ready to act to further protect the rights of pregnant people in our Commonwealth. I’m proud that the Senate has taken historic measures to ensure that reproductive healthcare remains accessible, and we will not remain on the sidelines of this continuing fight for the rights of Massachusetts residents and for reproductive justice everywhere.”  

State Senator Cindy F. Friedman:   

“Once again, Massachusetts will stand strong against the ongoing attack on women and those seeking gender informed care. This Commonwealth will continue the work to ensure that another state’s harmful politics will not stand in the way of our residents receiving the health care they require. Healthcare that is based in science and the needs of those seeking it.  

“The rulings we are seeing across our country that will deny preventative and needed care are political at best, and inhuman at worst. I am proud to live in a state that believes that the right healthcare is a determination made between a patient and their doctor and not by those with a political agenda out to harm those that are different or hold different values.  Thank you to the Healey – Driscoll administration, the Senate President, the Speaker and my colleagues for standing together and showing we care.”  

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu: 

“Boston will always guarantee access to abortion care and critical healthcare services. Our administration will continue working closely with state partners to ensure that residents have uninterrupted and full access to services. We will never allow extremist judges to undermine access to healthcare in our city.” 

Rebecca Hart Holder, President of Reproductive Equity Now: 

“This is what it looks like to have a partner in the Corner Office. At this moment of crisis, we are grateful to have Governor Healey at the helm, a leader who is not afraid to stand up, fight back, and make it clear that our Commonwealth’s core values will not be challenged. With this stockpiled supply of mifepristone, our providers can continue to offer the gold standard of medication abortion care to thousands of people throughout the state, regardless of what a judge in Texas says. Today, Massachusetts is sending a clear message that we will fight back against attempts to reach across our borders to restrict access to care.”  

Ellen Frank, Interim President and CEO of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts: 

“By proactively helping reproductive health organizations purchase mifepristone and strengthening provider protections, Governor Healey is continuing to show reproductive health care providers and anyone who might seek abortion care in Massachusetts that she has their backs. This action from the Healey Administration will directly help patients by giving our providers the resources and confidence to continue providing the most effective, evidence-based care for medication abortion and miscarriage management.”  

Carol Rose, Executive Director at the ACLU of Massachusetts: 

“Judge Kacsmaryk’s decision shows blatant disregard for decades of scientific research and best medical practice. It is based on nothing but an extremist, anti-abortion ideology and it's just the next step in a radical rightwing plan to ban abortion nationwide. Thankfully, Governor Healey has sent a strong message that Massachusetts will not let a baseless, outrageous ruling by one rogue judge in Texas disrupt best medical practice and attack the fundamental rights of people seeking reproductive care in our commonwealth.” 

Steve Walsh, President & CEO, Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association:  

“Massachusetts hospitals and health systems are proud champions of reproductive rights, especially at a time when those rights continue to be threatened across the nation. We are grateful for the important measures the Healey-Driscoll Administration is taking today to protect the services and resources at the heart of this care. MHA members are working to bolster their own supplies of mifepristone as a part of this effort and are strongly committed to caring for every patient in need of safe, compassionate reproductive care.”  

Dr. Theodore A. Calianos, II, President of Massachusetts Medical Society: 

“The physicians of the Massachusetts Medical Society believe unfettered access to safe, appropriate, and timely health care is a basic human right. The Texas decision unquestionably infringes upon that right and creates unnecessary risk and confusion for patients, physicians, and our health care teams, exacerbating existing disparities in access to care and disproportionately harming those who already face the most significant barriers, including people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, and those with low incomes. The Medical Society is thankful for the leadership and rapid response of the Healey-Driscoll Administration and stands resolute in our alliance with other health care leaders in the Commonwealth who will continue to fight to ensure that we are able to provide evidence-based care for our patients without misguided and dangerous interference.”  

Sarah Iselin, President and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts: 

“As a health care organization, we believe strongly that our members should have access to the care they need. We are grateful for Governor Healey’s comprehensive efforts to protect this critical aspect of abortion access for residents across the Commonwealth.”  

Lora Pellegrini, President and CEO of the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans: 

“MAHP and our member plans believe that reproductive health care is a vital component of overall health. MAHP member plans will continue to provide coverage for medication abortion without cost-sharing in accordance with the requirements established under Chapter 127 of the Acts of 2022 and regulatory guidance issued by the Division of Insurance. We are proud to offer coverage and care in Massachusetts, where reproductive care is treated as essential health care. MAHP would like to thank the Healey-Driscoll Administration for their leadership on this important issue.”  

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Media Contact for Governor Healey Announces Immediate Action to Protect Access to Medication Abortion in Massachusetts

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