Maura Healey’s Plan to Ensure Access to Women’s Health Care

Click here to read Maura's letter to the Massachusetts Legislature calling for specific legislation to address the U.S. Supreme Court's decision strking down the Massachusetts Buffer Zone.

A woman’s freedom to make decisions about her body is a fundamental right and a matter of personal dignity. I am running for Attorney General because I believe that every woman in Massachusetts should have access to reproductive health care, no matter where she works, where she lives, her sexual orientation, or how much she earns.

Reproductive freedom is more than a women’s issue – it’s a family issue and a pocketbook issue. It is vital to our communities and our workforce as more women enter and remain in the workforce, often as the primary wage earners for their families. Family planning is essential to achieving pay equity and professional advancement because it allows women across Massachusetts to stay in school, achieve professional success, and plan their families.

Reproductive freedom is also a public health issue. Access to affordable birth control reduces the likelihood of poor birth outcomes, such as low birth-weight and prematurity. Family planning also permits women to control a number of medical conditions that negatively impact their own health, such as gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Access is also critical to addressing rising maternal mortality rates.

 It is also a civil rights issue. Lack of access to high quality reproductive and sexual health care has a disproportionate impact on low income women and women of color. I will fight to make sure women who struggle to make ends meet have access to the high quality health care they deserve.

When I worked in the Attorney General's Office, I fought to protect women's reproductive rights. I worked with the legislature to pass the Massachusetts Buffer Zone Law, which ensured safe access to reproductive health care centers, and later I helped to enforce the law and defend it in court. I helped challenge regulations promulgated by the Bush administration that would have permitted physicians and other medical professionals to deny contraceptive care to patients and oversaw the early stages of the Commonwealth’s brief arguing against the claim made by Hobby Lobby – that an employer should be allowed to deny its employees insurance coverage for birth control because of the business owners’ own religious beliefs.

I will lead an office that fights to protect, and expand, the rights of women to make personal decisions about their health. I will do this by:

  1. Protecting access to health centers
  2. Shutting down deceptive practices by crisis pregnancy centers
  3. Fighting legislative restrictions
  4. Guaranteeing universal access to contraception
  5. Advocating for comprehensive sexual health education in schools

1.         Protect access to health centers

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down Massachusetts’s Buffer Zone Law, access to care at reproductive health clinics has been threatened. We need new laws that will guarantee a perimeter of safety around entrances and driveways of reproductive health centers. No woman visiting a doctor should be subjected to a gauntlet of shouts, taunts, and in-your-face “counseling.” I was the first candidate to offer a specific proposal on a legislative fix.

 As Attorney General, I will:

Enforce any new laws passed by the Legislature to guarantee access against those who physically block health center entrances, or threaten or intimidate staff and visitors. 

Partner with fellow law enforcement to train police on how to enforce the law’s protections.

Spearhead efforts with legislators and municipal officials to strengthen existing protections.

 2.         Shut down deceptive practices by crisis pregnancy centers

Advertising themselves as full service reproductive health care facilities, some so-called crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) prey upon vulnerable women and their families who are in search of accurate information about all of their options.  These CPCs work closely with protesters outside of Planned Parenthood facilities and attempt to coerce and shame women, using sham science and misinformation to instill fear. Many have purposely located themselves next to real reproductive health centers to confuse young and vulnerable patients. As Attorney General, I will use all of the regulatory and enforcement tools available to shut down deceptive crisis pregnancy centers in our state.

 3.         Fight any legislative rollbacks on reproductive freedoms

Each year, new bills are introduced in Massachusetts seeking to further restrict reproductive rights for women. I will lead the fight against these rollbacks because every woman should be able to exercise her rights when faced with an unintended pregnancy, regardless of her location or income. As Attorney General, I will:

Support the expansion of access to family planning and abortion services.

Work with legislative partners to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade.

Oppose mandatory waiting periods.

Oppose mandated and biased scripts for doctors counseling patients about abortions and family planning.

Oppose unconstitutional bans on abortion prior to viability.

4.         Guarantee universal access to contraception 

High cost of contraception is just one reason women pay more for health care on average than men.  This is unfair and it is discriminatory. I will fight to make sure that all women have access to health insurance that covers the cost of birth control and other reproductive health care. This is not only the right thing to do, it is good health policy—access to contraception is one of the most cost-effective preventive care interventions we have. As Attorney General, I will:

Advocate for a state law that requires state contractors and other companies that conduct business with Massachusetts to provide their employees with health care coverage that includes all forms of birth control.

Work with the Executive Office of Administration & Finance to add such a requirement to all state contracts.

Lead efforts to address the Hobby Lobby decision. I will fight for a state work-around that makes insurance coverage for birth control available to all women, regardless of where they work or the religious views of their employer. This is an issue of personal autonomy and not about corporate rights.

5.         Advocate for comprehensive sexual health education in schools

Guaranteeing access to sexual and reproductive health care requires that we teach medically accurate and age appropriate sexual health education in our schools. Young people must be educated so they can make mature decisions on delaying sexual activity, using contraceptives, and preventing unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. Schools should have the resources to teach students about how to be safe and how to form healthy, respectful, and non-violent relationships. Curriculum should help educate all students, regardless of gender, race, disability status or sexual orientation. As Attorney General, I will be an advocate for comprehensive sexuality education as a crucial tool in promoting sexual health and healthy relationships.