Category: Women’s Health

Offering balance to debate over ROE Act

Editor, Townsman:

This letter offers balance to points made in a letter to the editor by Ms. Theresa Gorey which was recently published in The Eagle-Tribune and The Andover Townsman.

Ms. Theresa Gorey states that the ROE Act (House Bill 3320) is Rep. Tram Nguyen’s bill. Actually the ROE Act is sponsored by Reps. Patricia A. Haddad (5th Bristol) and Jay D. Livingstone (8th Suffolk). Rep. Nguyen is just one of an additional 100 House members from all over the commonwealth who have co-sponsored it. Readers interested in this issue should download the bill from the Massachusetts House website (https://malegislature.gov/bills) and develop their own conclusions.

In my opinion, Ms. Gorey’s choice of words in her interpretation of the House Bill 3320, does not reflect the intent of the bill, nor is her interpretation shared by the legislators who have signed on to support this bill. Demonizing trained medical professionals and duly elected legislators by suggesting they would support and advocate for a bill to kill an unborn child is grossly unjust. Further her omissions on important language within the bill, such as “A physician, acting within their lawful scope of practice”, “physician’s best medical judgment”, “pregnant patient’s written informed consent on a form prescribed by the Commissioner of Public Health”, “duly licensed”, etc. weaken her position.

Lastly, I have found Rep. Nguyen to be open and accessible to constituents. She has made it clear on many occasions that while she may not always share the viewpoint of constituents, she is ready to listen respectfully. My personal observation is that conversations, impassioned or not, as opposed to uninformed accusations, are always welcome.

Yes, I am a supporter of Rep. Nguyen and I have a close working relationship with her. I am also a strong supporter of facts and civil discourse. One does not preclude my support of the other.

DIANE RIEMER

Andover

https://www.andovertownsman.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editor/offering-balance-to-debate-over-roe-act/article_004aa915-0a72-53fa-bd5e-5c8a6dab7d0c.html

We need to talk about periods – Bill would make menstrual products available in schools, shelters, prisons

IN 2014 a German nongovernmental organization called WASH United dubbed May 28 “International Menstrual Hygiene Day” to raise visibility around the daily struggle many people face with menstrual hygiene management. The date was chosen intentionally as a reference to the average length of the menstrual cycle – 28 days.

Since then nine states in the US have exempted tampons from taxation, acknowledging that the state budget should not be funded by a cost borne by only half the population. In 2016, New York City passed legislation to make menstrual products available in all public schools, shelters, and prisons. And, just a few months ago, we saw a short documentary, Period. End of Sentence, take home an Academy Award and watched the filmmakers give an impassioned acceptance speech about the need for better menstrual health education and access to menstrual products across the globe.

Right here in Massachusetts, Somerville, New Bedford, and Brookline student activists are organizing to demand that bathrooms be stocked with menstrual products. And town meeting in Brookline voted last week to do just that. It can’t be denied that the menstrual equity movement is growing.

Today, our Massachusetts Legislature has an opportunity to lead the country in menstrual equity legislation by passing Mass NOW’s new bill, An Act to Increase Access to Disposable Menstrual Products in Prisons, Homeless Shelters, and Public Schools. (It’s nicknamed the “I AM. Bill.”) The bill, sponsored by Sen. Patricia Jehlen of Somerville and Reps.  Jay Livingstone of Boston and Christine Barber of Somerville, contains language to ensure the products are truly accessible without stigmatizing the individual seeking them.

As it stands, over 70 legislators have signed on in support of our bill and more than 40 menstrual activists, advocacy organizations, nonprofits, businesses, and public servants in Massachusetts have signed onto the Massachusetts Menstrual Equity Coalition. But the path forward is long and our work toward ending the stigma around menstruation is far from over. There is a dearth of information about what the state of access to menstrual products is in schools, prisons, and shelters. We’re working with stakeholders across the state to gather stories from all those who would be impacted by this bill to develop an implementation strategy that’s feasible, economical, and truly a service to those it’s meant to support.

Language matters because it is a part of how systems of oppression operate. That’s why the bill refers to “menstruating individuals” – because we know that not all women menstruate, and not all menstruators identify as a woman. We also avoid using the word hygiene because periods are not something dirty that needs to be cleaned away.

Meet the Author

Sasha Goodfriend

Massachusetts chapter National Organization of Women

Mass NOW is calling on menstruators and non-menstruators alike to talk about periods. The power in the stigma and shame around menstruation – and around female and femme identifying bodies more broadly – lies in our refusal to even talk about it. We have the power to break this cycle through conversations around the dinner table, in health education classes and  with Mass NOW; in consciousness raising style in living rooms across the Commonwealth. We shouldn’t need a day to talk about periods, but once you start talking about it, you’ll find that the conversation doesn’t stop flowing.Sasha Goodfriend is the president of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Organization of Women.

For the Coming Year Livingstone’s Legislative Agenda Considers Both District-wide and National Issues

by Dan Murphy • February 7, 2019 •

While State Rep. Jay Livingstone conceived his legislative agenda for the new year with his constituents firmly in mind, he hopes it will also reverberate on a national level.

“I focused on priorities for the district, as well as thinking about how to continue making Massachusetts a leader, which is more necessary now because of what is happening at the federal level,” he said. “One thing that is under attack nationally is women’s reproductive rights…and we want to make it clear that Massachusetts reaffirms women’s reproductive rights.”

Livingstone and Rep. Pat Haddad have filed legislation called “The ROE Act” to protect women’s decisions regarding their own bodies, which has become the “top priority in the legislative term” for the nonprofits NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts and Planned Parenthood.

According to Planned Parenthood, “The ROE Act eliminates the onerous requirement that forces teens to obtain permission from a parent or judge to access abortion. This process causes teens to delay care or travel outside of the state, and is opposed by the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

Another bill that Livingstone filed with Rep. Adrian Madaro, who represents East Boston, aims to raise fees on Uber and Lyft to better align them with the fees levied on ride-sharing services in other states while using the proceeds to improve public transit, as well as bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

 “I’m excited to address improving our transportation system and discouraging use of fossil fuels,” Livingstone said. “I think this bill will help address congestion that is increasing at an exponential rate because of these services and decrease transportation pollution as a result.”

Meanwhile, Livingstone and Rep. Andy Vargas have filed new legislation t to further facilitate early voting in all elections.

“I think we should continue to make voting as easy as possible for people to increase participation,” Livingstone said.

http://beaconhilltimes.com/2019/02/07/for-the-coming-year-livingstones-legislative-agenda-considers-both-district-wide-and-national-issues/

Massachusetts advocacy groups file contrasting abortion legislation

January 31, 2019 12:04 am by Sofia Saric

Across the country and Massachusetts, reproductive rights groups are advocating for increased protections for abortion access, as it was recently the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in the United States, on Jan. 22.

More than 70 organizations rallied for more extensive abortion legislation for Commonwealth residents at the Massachusetts State House on Jan. 17 during Sexual Health Lobby Day, according to a press release from the Coalition for Choice.

The rally was led by NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts, the ACLU of Massachusetts and Massachusetts Family Planning Association.

For the 2019 legislative session, advocates have proposed An Act to Remove Obstacles and Expand Abortion Access, or the ROE Act, which would eliminate needing parental consent for an abortion and improve affordable access by eliminating other provisions.

The bill is sponsored by Massachusetts Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler, Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia Haddad and State Representative Jay Livingstone.

The ROE Act reforms state law to remove restrictions on abortion, including allowing access to abortion in certain cases of fetal anomalies after the 24-week mark and permitting teenagers to have access to abortion without parental consent.

At the Massachusetts State House on the Sexual Health Lobby Day, Chandler said the bill ensures that women’s healthcare is on the frontlines of the legislative agenda.

“The ROE Act breaks down barriers that women still face when trying to access abortion and contraceptive care,” Chandler said. “I am proud to sponsor this bill in honor of all the women who came before me and struggled to get the services they needed.”

Chandler said her efforts are motivated by the prospect of a better future.

“I will fight for the ROE Act so that future generations may live in a safer and healthier world,” Chandler said.

Not all believe that these efforts to increase abortion access are needed, however.

President of pro-life organization Massachusetts Citizens for Life, Anne Fox, said while she recognizes the legal possibility to expand abortion rights, she thinks there is no need for state abortion expansion because it is already accessible.

“They talk about access,” Fox said. “Well, in Massachusetts no one, no woman, is more than an hour at most from an abortion facility. It is less than an hour to get there.”

These already adequate forms of accessible help, Fox said, make the prospect of further accessibility difficult to imagine.  

“It is kind of hard to think how you could expand it,” Fox said.

Massachusetts Citizens for Life, alongside other pro-life groups, is looking to pass legislation as well.

Fox said the organization filed state bills this January that would fight coercion and increase educational information about abortion provided in clinics and schools.

“You take your dog in for surgery, you get a whole lot of information,” Fox said. “If you go in for an abortion, you get very little information. This would require that the people at the abortion facilities tell a women what is involved in the whole process.”

Carmen Hernandez, 52, of Back Bay, said although the possibility for new abortion access legislation could be a positive thing, abortion can still be upsetting.

“In a way, it is a mixed blessing,” Hernandez said. “A lot of young people aren’t always ready for parenthood.”

Katherine Burke, 19, of Fenway, said that she is pro-choice because she believes that situationally, abortion can sometimes be the best, or only, option for some women.

“There are certain instances where abortion is not the best answer,” Burke said. “However, there are other cases where it might be necessary, or it might be better for the mother to get an abortion.”

Saloni Jain, 23, of Brookline, said she believes legislation to improve abortion access could be a positive change.  

“If it makes it easier, then it is good,” Jain said.

https://dailyfreepress.com/blog/2019/01/31/massachusetts-advocacy-groups-file-contrasting-abortion-legislation/

NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts Releases Reproductive Freedom Scorecard

In this time of federal crisis, fundamental reproductive rights are at risk and the states play a key role in safeguarding those rights. The ongoing federal threat to reproductive freedom makes the critical work of the Massachusetts Legislature more important each day. Massachusetts voters need and deserve a transparent legislative scorecard to inform their understanding of where their elected officials stand on reproductive freedom. That’s why, today, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts released the first-ever Reproductive Freedom Scorecard for the 2017-2018 Legislative Session.

“This past legislative session, the Massachusetts Legislature responded to the threat posed by the Trump Administration with passage of key bills that safeguard and expand reproductive freedom in the Commonwealth.” said Rebecca Hart Holder, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. “Next legislative session, we have the opportunity to pass bold legislation that affirms the Commonwealth’s commitment to reproductive freedom and guarantees that no matter what happens in Washington, the people of Massachusetts will be able to access the full spectrum of reproductive health care, including abortion care.”

“That’s why we are introducing the first-ever NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts Reproductive Freedom Scorecard. The scorecard gives all Massachusetts citizens the opportunity see how their State Senators and Representatives voted on reproductive freedom during the most recent legislative session.”

“In our recent poll conducted by MassINC, we found that found that 8 in 10 Massachusetts voters want Roe v. Wade upheld. The Scorecard empowers Massachusetts citizens to understand which legislators are in-sync with the Commonwealth’s commitment to reproductive freedom and which legislators want to turn back the clock.”

In the interest of transparency, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts is releasing the full scoring document. The scoring formula is simple: each legislator can receive a point for cosponsoring priority legislation or taking a pro-choice vote. Legislators can additionally earn points by being lead sponsors of priority legislation and advancing bills out of committee. Similarly, legislators lose a point for taking anti-choice votes or cosponsoring anti-choice legislation.

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