Governor Healey Announces Action to Protect Access to Medication Abortion in Massachusetts; UMass Amherst Helps to Secure Stockpile of Doses
Following a federal court ruling in Texas in the case of Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food & Drug Administration that blocked the FDA's approval of the abortion medication mifepristone, Massachusetts Gov. Maura T. Healey announced steps on April 10 that the state is taking to protect access to care. At the governor’s request, UMass Amherst and health care providers took action to stockpile doses of mifepristone, and the governor has issued an executive order confirming protections for medication abortion under existing state law.
UMass President Marty Meehan and UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy attended a press conference on the steps of the State House in Boston announcing the governor’s actions. At Healey’s request, UMass Amherst last week purchased approximately 15,000 doses of mifepristone to ensure sufficient coverage in the state for more than a year. The doses are expected to arrive this week. Health care providers in Massachusetts have also agreed to purchase additional quantities to make available for patients. The Healey-Driscoll Administration is also dedicating $1 million to support providers contracted with Department of Public Health with paying for these doses.
Meehan and Subbaswamy stated in the governor’s news release, “We are pleased to answer the governor’s call to provide this vital assistance to the commonwealth. Helping to ensure access to safe, effective, reproductive healthcare for the residents of Massachusetts is fully aligned with UMass Amherst’s longstanding mission to serve the commonwealth.”
In making her announcement, Healey said, “Medication abortion is safe, effective and legal. Mifepristone has been used safely for more than 20 years and is the gold standard. Here in Massachusetts, we are not going to let one extremist judge in Texas turn back the clock on this proven medication and restrict access to care in our state,” said Governor Healey. “The action we are taking today protects access to mifepristone in Massachusetts and protects patients and providers from liability. In Massachusetts, we stand for civil rights and freedom. We will always protect access to reproductive health care, including medication abortion.”
Additionally, Healey is issuing an Executive Order confirming that the 2022 Shield Law should be interpreted as protecting access to medication abortion, including mifepristone. This will ensure that providers, including pharmacists, can continue to stock and dispense mifepristone and will protect providers and patients from criminal and civil liability for accessing this essential care. The Executive Order also instructs the Department of Public Health and Division of Insurance to issue guidance to help implement the order and requires the Department of Public Health to provide support to public universities and colleges to expedite development and implementation of their medication abortion readiness plans. In addition to abortion care, mifepristone is also used for miscarriage management, to treat lupus, and to reduce the risk of ulcers, among many other medical uses.