Massachusetts Law Protects Medication Abortion Access for Public College Students

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Massachusetts lawmakers recently approved a bill that expands abortion, reproductive health care, and gender-affirming services throughout the state. As part of this expansion, the new law requires public colleges and universities to provide access to medication abortion through on-campus services or outside referrals.

“What this legislation was intended to do was to normalize medication abortion as a part of health care and put it where students already are, which is on their campuses and in campus health centers,” Taylor St. Germain, communications director for Reproductive Equity Now, told WGBH, a Boston NPR affiliate.

Per the new law, public higher education institutions in the state are required to submit an abortion readiness plan to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health by November 2023. The legislation also formed the Public University Health Center Sexual and Reproductive Health Preparation Fund to help institutions pay for new abortion care programs. 

Massachusetts State Representative Lindsay Sabados (D) told WGBH that the new regulations ensure that economically disadvantaged students have access to medication abortion care that can often be too expensive. 

The legislation also acknowledges that smaller colleges may not have the necessary resources to administer a medication abortion program. Instead, those schools will be able to work with local health care providers to refer students needing abortion care.

“We wanted to come up with a system that was still going to allow students to reach out to their health centers and obtain the level of care that made sense for each campus. It was very clear that you can’t do a one size fits all model,” Sabados told WGBH.