By Bob Katzen
Gov. Baker signed into law a bill designed to ensure free access to FDA-approved methods of birth control for women in Massachusetts. The measure allows women to get a 12-month supply of a contraceptive of their choosing after an initial 3-month prescription and mandates coverage of emergency contraception at pharmacies without a copayment or a new prescription.
The proposal was filed in response to President Trump’s executive order that exempts a wide range of employers from the requirement that they offer birth control to their employees without co-pays or deductibles. The bill exempts church or qualified church-controlled organizations who would be allowed to opt out of the requirement.
A Center for Health Information and Analysis report said the bill’s mandates will cost the health care system between $1.9 million and $5.7 million annually over the next five years and will add between 84 cents and $2.40 to the annual premium for a Massachusetts subscriber.
“All women deserve the right to affordable, reliable and safe contraceptive care,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “This is not only a health issue, but one of equity as well. Being able to make decisions about contraception is one of the most influential factors in whether women complete their education and achieve their career goals. I’m proud that Massachusetts did the right thing in the face of shameful decisions on the federal level.”
“Under this new law, those who have moral objections to contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilizations will be compelled, in violation of their consciences, to subsidize, at an expanded level, procedures and practices which they find abhorrent,” said Catholic Action League Executive Director C.J. Doyle. “Our constitutional and jurisprudential tradition has long maintained that a ‘reasonable accommodation’ ought to be granted to the sincerely held moral and religious beliefs of citizens. This absolutist legislation offers no such accommodation.