Our Priority Legislation, Bills filed in CONGRESS AND the MA State Legislature that will impact Women
2021-2022 PRIORITY and SUPPORTED LEGISLATION:
STATE LEGISLATION – CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATOR!
Taking the lead from Planned Parenthood Action Massachusetts and NARAL Massachusetts:
We believe in Reproductive Justice and that guides the top of our priorities – most of this legislation is supported, endorsed and advocated for, by both Planned Parenthood Action MA, and Naral MA, some are supported and endorsed by ACLU MA.
- COMMON START: (HD1960, SD1307) filed by Representatives Ken Gordon and Adrian Madaro, and Senators Jason Lewis and Su Moran. An Act providing affordable and accessible high quality early education and care to promote child development and well-being and support the economy in the Commonwealth. The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need for high-quality, affordable child care and exposed how barriers to this support keep people from fully participating in the workforce. Without safe access to affordable, high-quality early education and child care, parents and other caregivers are often unable to work, or struggle to balance work with caring for their children.
Reproductive freedom is not only the ability to decide if, when, to have a family, it’s also about ensuring that when you decide to become a parent, you can raise a family in a safe and healthy environment without breaking the bank on child care. No one should have to take on multiple jobs or go into debt to pay for childcare.
We support the MA Common Start Coalition’ efforts to establish a 5-year pathway to a universal system of affordable, high-quality early education and child care for all Massachusetts families, starting at birth.
Massachusetts has the second highest child care costs in the country. These exorbitant early childhood care costs harm both parents and children, yet burden of child care still overwhelmingly falls to women, and people with lower incomes have fewer options for high-quality child care. All parents should be supported and be able to access the resources they need to work and care for their children.
- SAFE COMMUNITIES: (HD1960, SD1307) filed by Representatives Ken Gordon and Adrian Madaro, and Senators Jason Lewis and Su Moran .An Act to protect the civil rights and safety of all Massachusetts residents. We have supported this bill in the past, the time for this is NOW.
Deportation tears families apart and has devastating destabilizing effects; supporting reproductive freedom means supporting people if and when they decide to have a family and supporting policies that help them keep their families safe, healthy, and whole. No one should fear deportation when seeking health care, and all people deserve the highest quality of care, no matter their immigration status.
- THE VOTES ACT: An Act Fostering Voting Opportunities, Trust, Equity, and Security, sponsored by Rep. John Lawn in the House of Representatives (HD.1536) and Sen. Cindy Creem in the Senate (SD.1002). Makes voting by mail a permanent and easy option, establishes same-day registration, protect voting access for eligible incarcerated people, maximizes voter security and integrity.
- An Act relative to healthy youth (HD3454, SD2178) filed by Representatives Jim O’Day and Vanna Howard and Senator Sal DiDomenico – Requires that any public school which teaches sexual health must be comprehensive, medically accurate, LGBTQ inclusive, and teach consent and healthy relationships.
It’s time for this legislation to pass. It has be filed and refiled over several sessions and it makes even more sense NOW.
When a Massachusetts public school provides its students with sex education, there is no guarantee that the lessons are inclusive, age appropriate, or medically accurate. Comprehensive sex education is about more than just sex—it helps create a culture of consent, recognizes and prioritizes LGBTQ+ youth health needs, and gives young people the tools to build healthy relationships. The Healthy Youth Act would ensure comprehensive curricula are taught in public schools that choose to offer sex education, helping young people learn the benefits of delaying sex, as well as how to prevent STIs and pregnancy when they become sexually active.
- An Act to Require Public Universities to Provide Medication Abortion (HD2246, SD1431) filed by Representative Lindsay Sabadosa and Senator Jason Lewisorty percent of all abortion care in Massachusetts is medication abortion care.
Expanding access to medication abortion on college campuses will improve many MA residents’ ability to stay in control of their lives, bodies, and futures. Requiring public universities to provide medication abortion on campus instead of requiring young people to go off campus will put care within reach for many young people. It establishes a fund which draws on both state and private donations to provide grants to universities to build the necessary infrastructure to provide medication abortion care.
Students living on more remote campuses or those who cannot travel to an off-campus health center (especially BIPOC students, students with low incomes, and LGBTQ+ students) can face a number logistical hurdles while trying to access abortion care, including securing transportation, childcare, missing class, or taking time off work.
Medication abortion has been safe and legal in the U.S. for nearly 20 years, allowing patients a more private option of ending their pregnancy. By requiring public university’s to provide medication abortion safely and effectively at student health centers, this bill will remove these medically unnecessary barriers and provide young people better access to abortion care.
- An Act to Improve Access to Emergency Contraception (HD2536, SD1595) filed by Representative Marjorie Decker and Senator Joe Boncore.
Massachusetts laws on emergency contraception are outdated and do not conform to best practices in dispensing emergency contraception. We are working to update the Massachusetts General Laws to ensure that pregnant people can get emergency contraception without jumping through unnecessary hoops at the pharmacy.
- An Act Ensuring Access to Full Spectrum Pregnancy Care (HD2191, SD605) filed by Representatives Lindsay Sabadosa and Ruth Balser, and Senator Cindy Friedman: Cost should never be a barrier to accessing prenatal or abortion care but all too often, it is. Because high-deductible plans are common, many people face steep deductibles when trying to access full spectrum pregnancy care. We are trying to change that by passing a law that would require health insurance plans to cover all pregnancy care, including abortion care, prenatal care, childbirth, and postpartum care, without any kind of cost-sharing. See a one-page pdf by NARAL here giving details of the bill.
The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of any industrial nation, and for pregnant BIPOC people, the risk is even greater.
The right to decide if, when, and how to be pregnant and give birth means little if you can’t afford the care itself. Every person deserves the ability to make decisions about their pregnancy without worrying if they can afford care.
This bill would require insurers to cover all pregnancy-related care (including abortion, prenatal care, childbirth, and postpartum care) without co-pays or other cost sharing, supporting healthier outcomes and reducing disparities caused by barriers to care.
- An Act relative to telehealth and digital equity for patients– (HD2533, SD2099) filed by Representative Tom Golden and Senator Adam Gomez: Sexual and reproductive health needs are essential and time-sensitive. Planned Parenthood sees firsthand how barriers like time, transportation, childcare, and privacy concerns keep people from the care they need.
Telehealth, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, has improved health access for a wealth of patients, especially those living in remote or rural areas. This bill will help make telehealth services more affordable and available, helping more patients effectively access care.
- An Act to Increase Access to Disposable Menstrual Products in Prisons, Homeless Shelters and Public Schools (I AM bill) (HD651, SD748) filed by Representatives Jay Livingstone and Christine Barber and Senator Pat Jehlen: Provides access to menstrual products in prisons, homeless shelters, and public schools.
- An Act ensuring access to full spectrum pregnancy care: The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of any industrial nation, and for pregnant BIPOC people, the risk is even greater. The right to decide if, when, and how to be pregnant and give birth means little if you can’t afford the care itself. Every person deserves the ability to make decisions about their pregnancy without worrying if they can afford care. This bill would require insurers to cover all pregnancy-related care (including abortion, prenatal care, childbirth, and postpartum care) without co-pays or other cost sharing, supporting healthier outcomes and reducing disparities caused by barriers to care.
- VOTES act (An Act fostering voting opportunities, trust, equity, and security) (HD1536, SD1002) filed by Representative John Lawn and Senator Cindy Creem Expands access to voting by making voting by mail permanent, implementing same-day voter registration, and increasing accessibility for eligible incarcerated citizens.
“The reproductive lives of BIPOC people, young people, LGBTQ+ folks and people in communities with low incomes are at stake in every election. And each of these communities are disproportionately disenfranchised by barriers to voting. The ability to preserve and expand everyone’s access to reproductive care rests on their right to vote. Without the right to vote, people lose their power to decide. The VOTES Act aims to make sure every voice is heard in our democracy by making vote-by-mail options permanent, establishing Election Day registration, and supporting people who are incarcerated and still have the right to vote cast their ballots.” PP Action MA
- S. 1 and S. 51 Voting rights laws already passed in the House. CONTACT YOUR SENATOR These bills are up against the filibuster- have you contacted your Senator to end the filibuster?
- Violence Against Women Act _VAWA – passed the house but has yet to reach the Senate. According to VOX – issues like closing the boyfriend loophole in gun laws and protections for LGBTQ are facing objections in the Senate. From the VOX article. Here are some of the areas that the re-authorization would change:
Closes the “boyfriend loophole” for firearms purchases: The bill would bar anyone convicted of stalking or domestic abuse from being able to purchase a firearm. At the moment, this restriction only applies to partners who are married, cohabitating, or have children with the victim.
Increases accountability for incidents on tribal lands: Currently, Native American tribes don’t have jurisdiction to prosecute certain violent acts against women by non-tribal members including sexual assault, limiting the legal accountability of some offenders. This bill would change that.
Additional funding for culturally specific services: The legislation includes $40 million for the Department of Health and Human Services to specifically tailor programs to the needs of communities of color, including improving language access.
More funding for the Rape Prevention & Education Program: There’s a boost in funding to efforts aimed at preventing sexual assault, including grants that go to states and community-based initiatives. The reauthorization would designate $110 million per fiscal year for these programs.
Senate Republicans intend to offer their own version of the legislation, and have already cited the House bill’s gun control provisions as a potential stumbling block for bipartisan support in the upper chamber.
PAST SESSION: 2019 – 2020 PRIORITY and SUPPORTED LEGISLATION
- S1209/ H.3320 ROE Act: Would remove obstacles and expand abortion access. Would protect the health safety and privacy of young people by removing permission from a parent or judge to obtain an abortion. Ensures medical decisions are between a patient and her doctor. Establishes a safety net coverage for abortion care that already exists for other pregnancy care for people excluded from Mass Health. Senator Chandler and Rep Livingstone – Assigned to Joint Committee on Public Health ROE_Infographic
- S1334 / H.1949 An Act to Reduce Racial Disparities in Maternal Health: This would create a Commission that would make recommendations to the Governor and Legislature to address this injustice. The Commission would consist of experts in the field of maternal health, elected officials, members of racial justice organizations, healthcare providers, those who have lost an immediate family member to maternal death, and others.
- S834 / H.1466 An Act Relative to Female Genital Mutilation: (a negotiated version of this bill passed and the Governor has signed it) This bill would create a program of education, prevention and outreach for communities that commonly practice female genital mutilation, as well as education for health officials and other who may come into contact with victims or potential victims of female genital mutilation. The bill also creates a legal claim for genital mutilation no matter where it occurred, and criminalizes efforts to assist in genital mutilation, including taking a girl outside of the state to undergo the procedure.
- SD304 / 639 An Act Supporting Parents Running for Public Office: This bill would allow state and local candidates to use campaign funds for childcare services. Mass NOW is collaborating with childcare advocates as well as bill sponsor Sen. Jehlen to promote action days, call in campaigns, and other advocacy to promote this measure.
- H.410 Healthy Youth Act: An Act relative to healthy youth. Comprehensive sex education that is age appropriate, medically accurate (including healthy relationships and consent), & LGBTQIA inclusive. Sen. DiDomenico and Rep. Brodeur assigned to Joint Committee on Education
- S.S24 / H.1478 An Act to End Child Marriage in MA: This legislation would prohibit marriage of minors. Assigned to the Judiciary committee. Sen Chandler and Rep Khan – This bill has passed the Senate, but still has not been put to a vote in the HOUSE. The session has been extended – so contact your Representative and tell him/her to help get it to the floor for a vote!
- S.140 / Conversion Therapy Ban An act relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity in minors. This bill would prohibit therapists from trying to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a minor. Update: this bill has passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by the Governor. Thank you! More details about how your legislator voted: State Senate and House page.
- S.37 / H.104 An Act to Lift the Cap on Kids: Will repeal the Family Cap, a law which denies TAFDC cash assistance to a child born after the family first received TAFDC. This law currently excludes 8,700 children from their families’ cash assistance, leaving parents with even less money than other TAFDC recipients to provide necessities for their children. A repeal would result in families receiving about $100 per month for each of these children –an increment that can determine if a mother can afford enough diapers for her baby. This bill passed the House and Senate, the Governor vetoed it, and the legislature overrode his veto.
- S.677 / HD.2615 Health Care for Kids: An Act to ensure equitable health coverage for children. Over 20,000 MA kids get only minimal health coverage because of their immigration status, bill would ensure that MassHealth covers all kids equitably. Senator DiDomenico and Rep Dave Rogers
- S.1368: An act relative to enforcing federal laws. Ending 287G agreements This bill removes funding for the 287G agreements which allow our sheriffs to enter into agreements with ICE and allow law enforcement to act as agents of ICE. Rep Cabral
- S.1401 / H.3573 An Act to protect the civil rights and safety of all Massachusetts residents (was Safe Communities: Would protect the civil rights and safety of all MA residents. This bill stops law enforcement and court officials from inquiring about immigration status to ensure due process and limit notifications to ICE. Ends 287g agreements. Provides training for law enforcement. If there is an alleged violation, people can file a complaint with the relevant agency or the AG. Senator Eldridge, Reps Balser & Miranda
- S.677 / H.1102 An Act to Establish Health Equity for Pregnant Persons: Would require health insurance plans to cover all pregnancy related care, including abortion care, prenatal care, childbirth, and postpartum care, without any kind of cost-sharing. Good background on this: https://prochoicemass.org/issue/health-equity/
- S.1959 / S.1274 “I AM. Bill” An Act to Increase Access to Disposable Menstrual Products in Prisons, Homeless Shelters and Public Schools: This bill would provide access to free menstrual products to all menstruating individuals in prisons, homeless shelters and public schools from 6th-12th grade. The bill also contains language to ensure the products are truly accessible without stigmatizing the individual seeking them. Mass NOW co-wrote this bill with Sen. Jehlen and Rep. Livingstone’s offices, and is taking the lead on building an intersectional coalition to advocate for this measure.
- S.1072 Healthy Workplace Act Act: Addresses workplace bullying, mobbing and harassment, without regard to protected class status. Creates a legal claim for bullying targets who can establish they were subjected to malicious, health-harming behavior in the workplace. Feeny
- S.1898 /HD.2713 Changing State House Culture: An Act promoting equality and respect in the legislature. Sen Rausch and Rep Sabadosa
- SD.858/HD.2012 Repeal Citizens United: Resolutions for a United States Constitutional Amendment and a limited amendment proposing convention. Sen. Eldridge, Reps Gentile and Vieira
- SD1695/HD.3608, HD2016 Same Day Voter Registration: An Act relative to election day. Increased ballot access and voter participation mean a stronger democracy. Sens Creem and Malia and Rep Benson
- SD664, Tax Return Transparency: An Act restoring financial transparency in presidential elections. Barrett
- SD1710 Access to Justice: An Act relative to access to justice. Ensure that all victims, witnesses, defendants, and people with civil matters in court receive due process and can attend court proceedings in safety. Decker and Day
- SD1143/HD.1719 Drivers Licenses for Residents: An Act relative to work and family mobility. This bill would allow all eligible drivers a state issued license. In a state where millions of people depend on cars to get to work, to school, and to basic services, immigration status shouldn’t keep anyone from getting a license and registering and insuring their car. Sen Crighton and Reps Farley-Bouvier & Barber
- SD914/HD.1231 Increasing Available Health Care Providers: An Act to increase access to health care in underserved areas of Massachusetts. Thousands of highly skilled medical professionals who were trained abroad can’t practice here due to high barriers to licensure. This would create a commission to address those barriers and help put these professionals to work in underserved communities across Massachusetts. Senator Jason Lewis & Rep Jack Lewis
2019-2020 PRIORITY AND SUPPORTED LEGISLATION, MASSACHUSETTS
Expect additions, changes and updates throughout the session
CCWfC AT SEXUAL HEALTH LOBBY DAY 2019 with REPRESENTATIVES FROM INDIVISIBLE GROUPS FROM AROUND THE STATE
Here are the bills we worked on during 2017-2018:
On Wednesday, May 17, 2017, a group of women from Cape Cod Women for Change visited the statehouse along with Commissioners from the Cape and Islands Commission on the Status of Women to advocate for our priority legislation- listed below or you can download it: CCWFC priority legislation Status updated
Though we are determined advocates, we learned that for the most part, support for these bills seems to fall along party lines.
We need women (and men!) on Cape Cod to become active advocates for this legislation. It’s easy. We will issue Calls to Action when a bill is going to be before a committee or is up for a vote. You can respond by simply writing a letter of support to committees using information provided in each call, and sending that letter by email or US Mail to the addresses provided. You can also attend a hearing.
And, as we move through the state legislative process, we ask you to contact your own state legislators. When you do let us know via comments here on our posts, or by email, and tell us what their responses were. We were disappointed in the minimal responses we received from our own legislators. We asked if they planned to support any of our legislation. As we move through this legislation we will share their responses (or lack of response) to us, with you.
Two Cape Cod State Reps gave us NO response. Rep Tim Whelan’s chief of staff promised to get back to us, and never did, despite repeated requests for follow-up. Randy Hunt never responded to requests for a meeting.
Meanwhile we will share some of the legislation several local legislators HAVE filed that threaten women’s rights. Watch for new posts or use the link on the right to sign up for updates.
Cape Cod Women for Change Supported Legislation:
- ACCESS advancing contraceptive coverage and economic security:499 and H.536 This bill acknowledges that a woman’s economic security is often dependent upon her ability to access birth control and would require MA healthcare providers to cover. This is especially important since the current congress in D.C. seems to believe being a woman is a pre-existing condition. (passed)
- An Act Relative to Protecting Access to Confidential Health Care: S 1174 and H 3059 Patient confidentially is critical to ensuring that people access the health care they need. Current health insurer policies can result in the issuance of Explanation of Benefits forms (EOBs), also called Summary of Payments forms (SOPs), that violate patient confidentiality by informing the plan’s subscriber of the care dependents seek. Such revelations can represent serious intrusions into medical privacy and impede access to medical care. Confidentiality is essential to ensuring that patients seek the healthcare they need. (passed)
- An act to ensure teen safety: H. 3649, This bill would repeal existing state law that requires anyone under the age of 18 to obtain parental consent, or obtain a court order, to get an abortion. CCWFC priority legislation Status update (This bill will be voted on by the house any day now!)
- Sexual Violence on Campus: S.706 and H.632 – a bill addressing sexual violence on campuses and how institutions respond, support victims and end the practice of cover ups.
- Child Bride: H. S.785 H.2310 – a bill to end child marriage, which is still legal in all 50 states, usually young girls to older men; this practice is on the rise, even in MA (this bill was killed in/by committee)
- PASSED! Pregnant Workers Fairness: S.1023 and H.1038 – a bill protecting pregnant workers, allowing them reasonable adjustments in the workplace. We thank all Cape Legislators for supporting this.
- Family and Medical Leave: S.1048 – a bill to establish a family and medical leave insurance program for those working for companies with fewer than 50 employees
- PASSED AS A BUDGET ITEM: Housing Courts on Cape Cod: S.946 and H.978 – a bill extending geographical jurisdiction of housing courts to the cape and islands; housing is a major issue for all demographics but women with children are especially vulnerable. This bill provides housing justice by providing special judges/legal teams specially trained in housing code.
- Affordable Housing Bills:
- An Act relative to housing production H 673 and S 723 Title: The major purpose of this bill is to encourage more units of housing to be built that will be affordable to more of our population and alleviate the extreme shortage of housing for low and moderate income families.
- An Act financing the production and preservation of housing for low and moderate income residents: Bill H.675
- H 2420 An Act building for the future of the Commonwealth: (Meaghan testified on behalf of this bill May 2) establish an annual program of education, self-evaluation and training for members of local planning boards and zoning boards of appeals and to promote affordable community housing . Municipalities and Regional Government
- IMMIGRATION – Safe Communities: S1305 and H3269 An Act to protect the civil rights and safety of all Massachusetts residents
- RAPISTS AND PARENTAL RIGHTS (S 832) – The Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a bill that would take away the parental rights of convicted rapists. The measure prohibits convicted rapists from getting custody of or obtaining visitation rights to see the child born from the rape. It also allows the courts, despite this termination of rights, to require that the perpetrator of the rape pay child support.
- NO PARENTAL RIGHTS FOR MURDERERS (H 2285) The Judiciary Committee is also considering a bill that would remove a child from the custody of his or her parent who is convicted of murdering the child’s other parent.
The measure provides a few exemptions including allowing custody by the convicted parent if the child requests it and the court determines that the child is mature enough to make such a decision. Another exemption allows custody if the convicted parent suffered from physical, sexual or psychological abuse from the murdered parent.
Photos of our day on Beacon Hill advocating for women on Cape Cod and all over Massachusetts: