No One Should Have to Cross State Lines for Health Care

Chairman Eldridge, Chairwoman Cronin, and members of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary,

My name is Jonathan Cohn, and I am the chairman of the Issues Committee of Progressive Massachusetts. Progressive Massachusetts is a statewide grassroots advocacy organization devoted to shared prosperity and racial and social justice. 

Progressive Massachusetts would like to go on the record IN SUPPORT of H. 3320, An Act removing obstacles and expanding access to women's reproductive health, and S. 1209, An Act to remove obstacles and expand abortion access, jointly known as the ROE Act.

Massachusetts has been a leader in health care in the US, with our 2006 health care law setting an example for the Affordable Care Act. But despite our achievement of near universality in health insurance coverage, not everyone has access to safe, legal abortion. We cannot fully achieve the goal of universal health care without reproductive justice.

Outdated, medically unnecessary laws have created insurmountable barriers for young people seeking abortion and people in need of abortion later in pregnancy after receiving fatal fetal diagnoses. Such cases force Massachusetts residents to delay care, cross state lines, or be denied care altogether.

Reproductive rights are under attack throughout the US, and the goal of the opponents of the basic right to bodily autonomy is clear: to have Roe v. Wade repealed by our conservative Supreme Court. Medically unnecessary laws and inaccurate definitions still on the books in Massachusetts could put these fundamental rights at risk here were that to happen. The ROE Act is an essential safeguard.

If we believe that health care is a right and, consequently, abortion care is a right, then no one should be prevented from receiving necessary care due to the cost burden. When rights depend on an ability to pay, they are no longer rights.

The ROE Act understands this. By codifying the state safety net programs’ coverage of abortion care into state law, people with low incomes who are ineligible for MassHealth will be able to access pregnancy-related care. By eliminating the onerous judicial bypass teenagers must navigate to access safe, legal abortion and ensuring that individuals who receive receives a fatal fetal diagnosis later in pregnancy can access abortion care in Massachusetts, the ROE Act ensures that no one has to cross state lines (with all the prohibitive costs entailed) to access health care.

Please Give a Favorable Report to H. 3320: An Act removing obstacles and expanding access to women's reproductive health and S. 1209, An Act to remove obstacles and expand abortion access.


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