Here’s how the ‘Beyond Row Coalition’ is planning to protect abortion rights

Health

“For us in Massachusetts, we always want to let people know that our law is strong and here it is, it’s not going to go away at all.”

Hundreds gathered at the Parkman Bandstand on Greeley Tribune Common on May 14 to protest a leaked Supreme Court draft overturning Roe v. Wade. Erin Clark / Globe Staff

As the nation awaits an imminent decision from the United States Supreme Court regarding abortion access, some advocacy groups in Massachusetts are continuing to fight to protect access in a potentially post-row reversal world.

The groups in question, Reproductive Equity Now, the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts, established cry beyond allianceCommitted to protecting and expanding access to reproductive health care in the Commonwealth.

Here’s what they’re trying to do.

The coalition, which is open for others to join, created a set of recommended legislative action, budget investments and regulatory solutions that have been sent to lawmakers and policymakers in the state.

“It really is a roadmap for legislation and executive action. This is our path to really re-imagining what real reproductive equity can be,” Rebecca Hart Holder, executive director of Reproductive Equity Now, told Greeley Tribune.com. And as with our response to the Row Act, this is a moment for us to take bold meaningful action.”

row actWhich was passed in late 2020 and expanded access and protection of abortion services in the state, was another joint effort between the three founding organizations, although they were known at the time as the Row Act Coalition.

“When Justice Alito Leaked, Or Someone Else” Groove“The draft opinion that would overturn Roe in such a dramatic way, we regrouped… and we agreed we needed to form a new group,” said ACLU executive director Carol Rose, MA. “So we Created the Beyond Row Coalition in response to the leaks and in preparation for what we see a lot of states are going to criminalize access to abortion care and a lot of patients need to have more access and a lot of providers need to be protected. To be done.”

Although the Roe Act protects abortion rights in Massachusetts, more than in many states, it doesn’t go far enough to ensure that people actually have access to reproductive health care.

“There are still a lot of people who don’t have full access to reproductive health care. It’s not just abortion, but it’s also things like emergency contraception, birth control,” Rose said. “That’s why we want to make sure that people in Massachusetts are not blocked from accessing health care.”

The Coalition’s recommendations fall into three main categories: expanding access to care, supporting patients and providers, and increasing education and research. The Planned Parenthood Advocacy League of Massachusetts executive director, Nate Horwitz-Willis, said the coalition positions itself to be “solution-oriented”. dobbs decision,

Horwitz-Willis said, “We see ourselves, with this alliance, to position Massachusetts as a leader in expanding abortion access and ensuring that everyone has the ability to come to Massachusetts.” Is.”

first bucket of recommendations, expanding access to careSerious, said Hart Holder.

“Access is pointless if we don’t have providers who can offer care,” Hart Holder said. “We need to support those providers because the Commonwealth believes abortion is legal care that should be protected here. Ensuring that providers can safely provide legitimate care in the Commonwealth is critically important. is important.”

The Coalition can help increase access to lawmakers, including creating an aid fund in the state budget, mandating insurance coverage for abortion, and simplifying access to emergency contraception.

Increased reach is also basically linked to Support patients and providers, the second bucket of recommendations, coalition leaders said. Rose said one of the challenging legal questions the coalition is exploring is how telemedicine and abortion restrictions interact.

“I think the most interesting thing is how do we protect providers that may provide telemedicine to someone in another state. So if I’m a provider in Massachusetts, and I get on the phone, and I’m in Texas I talk to someone through abortion, … what do you do? This is the part of the law that is yet to be determined,” Rose said.

Rose said it’s more straightforward when people actually travel to Massachusetts for care, though not without some concerns. If the Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade, at least 22 states are poised to restrict abortion access. Guttmacher Institute, Hart Holder hopes that Massachusetts, and other states that still have access, will see an influx of people seeking care.

“If you have family in Massachusetts, if you can fly here, if you have friends here, you’re going to get to a place where you can get a direct flight, where you have support, whether it’s friends or family. , and where you feel safe accessing abortion care, and that means Massachusetts is going to be a destination for care,” Hart Holder said.

There is some concern that other states may try to extend their laws to the Commonwealth, which is another reason why provider protections are needed, Rose said.

“We are concerned about efforts in some of these states to threaten Massachusetts abortion providers who will provide abortion care for someone from Texas or Missouri or Mississippi who may come to Massachusetts,” Rose said. “We want to make sure that our providers are protected as much as possible to the extent of the law, to make sure that our laws are in place to ensure that providers here in Massachusetts criminalize abortion care in any way.” from other states.”

The third prong of the coalition’s approach is education and researchWhich they divide into data collection, provider training, sexual health education and a public health campaign.

“The third element is to really increase education and research efforts so that people understand what their rights are, and why reproductive health care, as broadly defined, is so important to basic equality for women and men alike,” Rose said.

Rose said the coalition hopes to become a representative group that centers the voices of traditionally vulnerable and underserved communities.

“We’re looking to build a broad coalition because really, when you get down to it, it’s about individual rights to ensure access to reproductive health care and reproductive health care, but it’s also about the rights of families. Me too,” said Rose.

To get involved, coalition leaders said people can co-sign their agenda Website Or contact member organizations for more information.

“We need to make sure people are involved. This is going to be the biggest key to the alliance,” Horwitz-Willis said.

The day the Supreme Court delivered its verdict Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization The case, which will likely take place before July 4, with Rose, Hart Holder and Horwitz-Willis all said that nothing would really change for the Coalition. leak of majority opinion Fires lit under the organizations in May, Hart Holder said, but if the court acts as expected, the work will not change.

“I don’t think it affects the alliance at all. I think it’s incredibly unlikely that, at least, Mississippi Law So the landscape of abortion access in the United States is going to change dramatically and that means we keep fighting here in Massachusetts,” Hart Holder said.

Rose said there could be a vigil or gathering on the night of the decision of people to come together and raise their voices.

“We know that the opposition has 50 years to strategize to reach this point. And for us in Massachusetts, we always want to let people know that our law is strong and here, it’s not going to go away at all,” Horwitz-Willis said. “We just want to make sure we’re on that word. We’re protecting and we’re as proactive as possible.”

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