In First Gubernatorial Debate, Maura Healey Vows to Use Powers of the Governor to Expand Abortion Access
Contact: Caroline Kimball-Katz, [email protected]
For Immediate Release: Oct. 13, 2022 (Updated: Oct. 13, 2022, 3:43 p.m.)
Diehl applauds Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, advocates for rescinding provisions of the ROE Act to restrict abortion access in Massachusetts
BOSTON – In yesterday's gubernatorial debate, Attorney General and Democratic Nominee for Governor Maura Healey committed to using the powers of the Executive Office to protect and expand abortion access amid nationwide attacks on reproductive freedom.
“Abortion is on the ballot in this race. I support and will protect and defend a woman’s access to abortion,” said Maura Healey in her opening statement. “My opponent wants to ban abortion, wants to defund Planned Parenthood. He even wants to cut off contraception for unmarried women. I will stand up and defend reproductive freedom.”
“We need to do everything that we can to protect patients and providers at this time,” said Maura Healey. “And that’s what I sought to do. Rather than celebrating Roe’s overturning, which is what my opponent did, I went to work. I went to work with the legislature. I went to work with Governor Baker. And we have now a really important law in place that’s going to provide those protections for patients and providers.”
By contrast, Republican nominee Geoff Diehl applauded the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and voiced opposition to the ROE Act, the law that codifies a person’s right to abortion in Massachusetts up to 24 weeks of pregnancy with important exemptions for abortion later in pregnancy to protect the life of the pregnant person or in cases of grave or fatal fetal diagnoses. Diehl repeatedly used medically-inaccurate and inflammatory language to describe abortion later in pregnancy, which contributes to the stigmatization of abortion care and poses a serious threat to access in the state.
“Time and time again, Maura Healey has been unafraid to stand up against national attacks on reproductive health care. She is a champion for reproductive freedom, and her comments in tonight’s debate again prove that she will be an unwavering defender of abortion access across the Commonwealth,” said Rebecca Hart Holder, executive director of Reproductive Equity Now. “At this moment of national crisis, the next Massachusetts governor will hold extraordinary power to either expand abortion access or take us back several steps in our fight for reproductive equity. Maura Healey is the candidate who will ensure that abortion is protected, available, and accessible for all across Massachusetts.”
“Massachusetts has some of the strongest reproductive health protections in the country, but if we want abortion to not only remain legal but also be accessible to anyone seeking care, we need a governor who will use her power to protect patients and providers and remove barriers to care – not someone who touts anti-abortion, anti-science rhetoric that threatens patient-centered care,” said Dr. Nate Horwitz-Willis, executive director of the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts. “Throughout her career, and in this campaign, Maura Healey has demonstrated an unmatched commitment to reproductive freedom and abortion access. Maura will be the Governor that takes us forward, not backward, on equitable, accessible reproductive health care.”
How can the next governor impact abortion access in Massachusetts? Below are examples of the governor’s executive jurisdiction over reproductive health care:
- Implementation: Massachusetts has been a national leader in protecting and expanding access to reproductive health care, most recently enacting bills that safeguard affordable birth control, expand abortion access, and insulate providers from out-of-state legal attacks. As an opponent of the laws themselves, Geoff Diehl could easily block the implementation of these critical protections for our care.
- Following passage of An Act expanding protections for reproductive and gender-affirming care, the Governor will need to take action to ensure MassHealth and the Division of Insurance ensure full compliance with the abortion coverage mandate, state colleges and universities work collaboratively with the Department of Public Health to implement medication abortion readiness plans, and the Secretary of State's Office promulgates new regulations to administer the expanded confidentiality address program for providers of reproductive and gender-affirming care.
- The ACCESS Act ensures access to no-copay birth control and a prescription of up to 12 months. The next Governor will need to take executive action to ensure MassHealth and the Division of Insurance promulgate final regulations to ensure compliance with the ACCESS Law and promote public awareness of the option to access a full year’s supply of birth control and no-cost emergency contraception.
- Administrative Power: The Governor has vast executive authority over all state agencies, notably the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. Much like Governor Baker has used his executive authority to protect patients and providers, the next Governor can use their executive authority to impact health care services, insurance and MassHealth policy, funding for family planning services, changes to education policy, and much more. The Governor also holds veto power, which can hold up or derail important pieces of legislation to expand reproductive health care.
- Judges: The Governor appoints judges to Massachusetts courts, and the Lieutenant Governor presides over the Governor’s Council which confirms those appointments. Massachusetts judges have made historic decisions, including recognizing reproductive freedom and LGBTQ+ marriage, and protecting democratic institutions from attacks. If a Governor and Lieutenant Governor who rejects these core Massachusetts values are elected, fundamental freedoms will be jeopardized in the courts.
- Boards: The Governor makes appointments to several boards and advisory councils that influence health care service delivery and public health policy in Massachusetts, including the boards of Registration in Medicine and Registration in Nursing. Having boards that support reproductive health care access and prioritize health equity is important to ensure patients have access to the health care they deserve.
- Consumer Protection: One of the greatest threats to reproductive health care in Massachusetts are fake abortion clinics, which outnumber actual abortion providers 3 to 1 in the state. Also known as crisis pregnancy centers, many of these organizations lure patients in with deceptive advertising, but do not provide abortion care or abortion referrals, contraception, or other reproductive health care. It will be important for the next administration to make clear to patients where they can access care and protect patients from dangerous delays in time-sensitive health care.
- MA, A Place to Access Care: Most abortions are banned in 14 states since Roe v. Wade was overturned, and other states plan to restrict care. Millions of women are being forced into pregnancy or are traveling thousands of miles to access care. Massachusetts is one of the last safe havens for abortion access. Governors will play an important role post-Roe to ensure these patients can safely access affordable abortion should they come to Massachusetts for care.
- Funding for Reproductive Care: The Governor plays an important role in crafting the state’s budget, which includes funding for family planning services, cancer screenings, and other essential health care services. Without a Governor who will ensure our most vulnerable residents have access to care, our entire public health system will be threatened.
- Federal Advocacy & Attacks: Since the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, extremists in Congress have set their sights on a federal abortion ban. Should anti-abortion politicians take over both chambers and the presidency, there is a serious threat to all forms of reproductive health care. Moreover, other states have enacted laws that would reach into Massachusetts and threaten providers with lawsuits. It will fall to Governors and other state officials to protect access in their states. Geoff Diehl has refused to answer whether he would support or reject a federal abortion ban.