by Kathryn Carley, Commonwealth News Service
Massachusetts lawmakers are vowing to protect access to the abortion drug mifepristone, after two competing rulings by federal judges has left access to the medication in limbo across the country.
Gov. Maura Healy has issued an executive order to clarify a state law passed last year to protect abortion access extends to abortion medication as well. Healy said the University of Massachusetts at Amherst has also ordered 15,000 doses, or roughly a year’s worth, of mifepristone and will distribute it to providers.
“Abortion, medication abortion, will remain safe, legal and accessible here in the Commonwealth,” Healy stated.
Healy spoke at a rally Monday on the Statehouse steps. She announced her administration will dedicate $1 million to support health care providers contracted by the Department of Public Health to help pay for the medication. Mifepristone was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000 and is used in more than half of all abortions nationwide.
Just last year, Massachusetts passed one of the strongest shield laws protecting abortion providers, as well as access to care, both for residents and those who travel from out-of-state. It also established an abortion resource hotline offering free legal advice.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., described those determined to ban abortion nationwide as “extremists” and told the crowd the only way to stop them is at the ballot box in 2024.
“We need more people in Congress who are willing to make Roe v. Wade the law of the land,” Warren stressed.
Legal observers say long-term access to abortion medication will likely be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court, which last year repealed Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision establishing a constitutional right to abortions.