Massachusetts

NIRH worked with Reproductive Equity Now (formerly NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts Foundation) for many years on initiatives to advance reproductive equity in the Commonwealth. In 2022, NIRH is working with Reproductive Equity Now Foundation (formerly Pro-Choice Massachusetts Foundation) to ensure full implementation of the Contraceptive ACCESS law, passed in 2017 through a similar partnership. The ACCESS law provides for co-pay free contraceptive coverage, a 12-month supply of birth control, and insurance coverage for emergency contraception at pharmacies and other points of sale. But the promise of this law has not yet been realized, including in patients still being unable to obtain LARCs without an insurance copay. By pursuing administrative and regulatory changes; providing support to clinicians, pharmacists, and insurers responsible for providing these services; and educating patients about their rights under the law, this partnership seeks to make the law a reality for all who need contraception in Massachusetts.  In 2020, NIRH and the Reproductive Equity Now Foundation built on their education and coalition efforts to expand abortion access, remove barriers to care, and ensure healthier, more equitable communities. The ROE Act, passed in 2021, both secures reproductive freedom in state law and removes barriers to abortion access that fall particularly on those with least access to care. The ROE Act eliminated the harmful requirement that 16- and 17-year-olds must get parental or judicial consent, Act repealed criminal penalties for abortion care later in pregnancy, and made it clear that trained, qualified advanced practice clinicians are authorized to provide abortions. In 2019, NIRH worked closely with the Reproductive Equity Now Foundation to reform current laws to remove barriers to access, expand legislative protections for reproductive freedom, and motivate voters to vote for reproductive rights. They accomplished these goals through the creation of a steering committee to fight for reproductive freedom in Massachusetts with partners Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts and the ACLU of Massachusetts and advocacy for the ROE Act, a bill that would codify the right to choose and expand access to abortion through repeal of anti-choice laws that interfere with personal decisions about whether to become a parent. Further, they argued for proactive steps to create an insurance safety net that would aid people seeking abortion care, particularly undocumented people, to ensure that finances are not an impediment to exercising the right to choose. With support from NIRH, Reproductive Equity Now Foundation continued to reach voters and legislators through a variety of avenues such as public forums, letters to the editor, one-on-one conversations with voters, and phone banks.   In 2018, with support from NIRH, Massachusetts confronted the new threat to reproductive freedom by passing the NASTY Woman Act, repealing the state’s centuries-old criminal abortion law. Armed with polling, messaging, and grassroots power, we worked closely with in-state partners to push the legislature — which had long been entrenched in opposition to proactively addressing the laws regarding abortion access — to finally pass this law. As Reproductive Equity Now’s executive director, said recently, “We’re a small organization—a staff of five—and NIRH really amplifies the work that we do…We just wouldn’t be here today without NIRH. Full stop. It’s that simple.” Reproductive Equity Now Foundation received additional support from NIRH in 2018 to address private and public insurance barriers to offering immediate post-partum LARC placement by identifying current reimbursement policies for immediate postpartum LARC among private health insurers and using this research to inform advocacy for administrative policy change to expand coverage of immediate postpartum LARC. PCMF also worked with major health care facilities across the state towards implementation of this service.   In 2017, Reproductive Equity Now Foundation built on Massachusetts’ status as a model policy lab for health care by successfully advocating for the passage of the ACCESS (Advancing Contraceptive Coverage and Economic Security in our State) bill, which put in place state-level protections for contraceptive access. Among other provisions, this bill codified coverage of contraception with no copay into state law; required insurance coverage without copay or prescription for over-the counter emergency contraception; and limited medical management techniques that pose barriers to contraceptive access.    In 2013, Reproductive Equity Now strengthened and grew the Mass Women's Health Coalition (MWHC), which monitored implementation of the ACA and Massachusetts cost containment legislation. The organization also submitted recommendations to the Division of Insurance on protecting confidentiality. In 2009, Reproductive Equity Now launched a citywide coalition in Boston to provide recommendations to the Boston Public Health Commission on adolescent reproductive health. In the 2012-2013 school year, this Coalition led successful advocacy efforts to implement the Boston Public Schools Wellness Policy, a holistic curriculum that includes K-12 comprehensive sex education. In 2009, Reproductive Equity Now launched a citywide coalition in Boston to provide recommendations to the Boston Public Health Commission on adolescent reproductive health, with support from NIRH. In the 2012-2013 school year, this Coalition led successful advocacy efforts to implement the Boston Public Schools Wellness Policy, a holistic curriculum that includes K-12 comprehensive sex education.