Massachusetts Just Became the First State to Ensure Free Birth Control Under Trump

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law on Nov. 20 a bill that will mandate free birth control for women in the state.

The so-called ACCESS bill passed overwhelmingly in both the Massachusetts House and Senate.

In a reassuring display of unity across party lines, Baker, a Republican, declared, “This legislation will ensure no woman in Massachusetts, irrespective of what goes on in Washington, will worry about whether her health care services and rights will be affected here in the Commonwealth,” according to MassLive.

House Speaker Pro Tempore Pat Haddad, a Democrat, said the bill became a priority “not just because of what it does but because of the potential for things to change dramatically for women of Massachusetts.”

Specifically, the law states that health insurers in the state are required to offer coverage, without any co-payments, for prescription contraceptives regardless of any future repeal of the Affordable Care Act or indeed of any changes in federal policy.

The new law also requires insurers to cover a full year of birth control pills after a 3-month trial; until now, women had to make more frequent pharmacy trips. Voluntary female sterilization procedures are also covered, although not vasectomies.

An added bonus: the ruling also mandates that the morning-after pill be provided without a doctor’s prescription.

This bill comes in direct response to Trump’s executive order on Oct. 6, which allowed employers to cite moral or religious grounds as a reason to opt out of providing any kind of birth control coverage in their health insurance plans.

In taking this action, Trump once again revealed two of his basic goals: to deny women any rights over our bodies and to annihilate President Obama’s legacy.

It was an Obama-era requirement that guaranteed free contraception coverage to at least 55 million women. The Affordable Care Act correctly made contraception a core part of women’s health care for the first time and required it to be covered under most insurance plans.

A huge shout-out to the Massachusetts legislature for becoming the first state to stand up to this misogyny, and to do so at such lightning speed. It has taken just over a month for the state’s rejection of Trump policies to become law. (The bill was already in the works, but politicians worked hard to push its progress.)

“Today, the Massachusetts House of Representatives made clear that birth control access is not up for debate in Massachusetts,” said Jennifer Childs-Roshak, president of the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts, after the House vote. “While the Trump administration is laser focused on making it harder for people to access the care they need, Massachusetts is stepping up to protect the health and well-being of its residents by passing the ACCESS bill.”

The law goes into effect immediately, but allows insurers six months to get these changes in place. The only exemptions will be Massachusetts’ employers who are a church or another religious institution.

As WBUR’s Carey Goldberg explained on “Here And Now,” this bill is also striking in that it demonstrates how two very different parties were able to come together. On one side were interest groups like Planned Parenthood and on the other were the insurers, but they compromised because everyone had the same basic belief, that access to birth control is essential.

By taking this giant step to defy the Trump administration, Massachusetts is sending a message both to Washington and to other states.

Backers of ACCESS say they’ve heard from other states that they would like to follow the state’s lead, and around 12 states have already taken some sort of action to shore up birth control coverage in response to the Trump mandate.

Congratulations to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for taking the lead in standing up to Trump’s erosion of women’s rights.

 

Photo Credit: thinkstock

110 comments

Karen Swenson
Karen Swenson9 days ago

@Aaron L--WTF--are you blathering about--I am hoping you do not mean what you are posting! If you do, you better look up the word Misogynist, as it applies to you and the Pervert Trump! I and no other women need your, or Trumps protection, especially when it comes to our bodies and our lives! YOU do not know better what women need and want than women do! So take your childish statement, educate yourself and rethink it!

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Kathleen England
Kathleen E12 days ago

Common sense, well done!

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Rachel Nichols
Rachel Nichols13 days ago

Ty

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Janis K
Janis K13 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Aaron L
Aaron L13 days ago

what Trump is doing is not misogyny, he's protecting women from themselves.

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Leo C
Leo Custer13 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Veronica D
Veronica D13 days ago

Thank you so very much

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Veronica D
Veronica D13 days ago

Thank you so very much

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Veronica D
Veronica D13 days ago

Thank you so very much

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ANA MARIJA R
ANA MARIJA R13 days ago

"Congratulations to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for taking the lead in standing up to Trump’s erosion of women’s rights."
p.s. But guys don't forget you don't make us favor, so we need to be grateful... IT'S OUR HUMAN RIGHT!!

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