Five Social Policy Changes Maura Healey’s Administration May Pursue

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We know Maura Healey is a liberal, but what will that look like as governor of Massachusetts?

We’ll find out in the coming years, but given the research that NewBostonPost has done on Healey in recent years, we expect that she will support some changes to current social policies.

Here are five social issues where the Healey administration could either try or succeed in making changes to Massachusetts.


1.  No More Parental Consent For Abortions

Governor-elect Maura Healey supported the ROE Act as state attorney general.

She supported not only the watered-down version that became law in December 2020 but also supported the initial version.

While the version of the ROE Act that passed eliminated parental consent requirements for 16- and 17-year-old minors seeking abortions, it did not change the law as it pertains to minors under 16 years old seeking an abortion.

However, the initial version of the ROE Act would’ve gutted parental consent for minors seeking abortion entirely — whether a pregnant 10-year-old or a pregnant 17-year-old.

Given that eliminating parental consent for minors seeking an abortion is a priority of the abortion lobby, as NewBostonPost has reported, and there is bipartisan support for abortion in the Massachusetts legislature, this change is something we should expect Healey to sign into law in the coming years.


2.  In-State Tuition For Illegal Immigrants

Liberal immigration advocates got a win this year:  driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. The legislature enacted a bill making illegal immigrants eligible for driver’s licenses and the veto referendum effort to repeal the law failed in November (54 percent yes, 46 percent no).

The question is:  Where do these advocates put their time and effort next? They want to make Massachusetts a sanctuary state, but Healey refers so far refused to say whether or not she supports that.

However, she supports something else these advocates have been trying to do for the past 20 years:  make illegal immigrants eligible for in-state tuition in the Commonwealth.

 Healey expressed support for this kind of proposal in 2019.

“I write to express support for expanding access to our public colleges and universities by making all Massachusetts high school graduates who attended our high schools for at least three years eligible for in-state tuition rates, fees, and state-funded financial aid,” Healey wrote in a letter to the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Higher Education on July 30, 2019. “Meaningful and equitable access to higher education is critically important to success for all of our students, including many immigrant students who have lived in our communities and attended our schools since childhood.”

The last time this proposal came up for a vote in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, in 2006, it failed 57-97. However, the Democratic Party has become moved left on immigration during the past 16 years, so the vote would likely be different this time around.

After all, President Joe Biden wanted more physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border in 2006, something he would never support today. 


3.  Gender X Driver’s Licenses

Massachusetts already issues Gender X driver’s licenses, but no law mandates that the state must do it.

It’s something that the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles under Governor Charlie Baker started doing in 2019 despite no legislation demanding it. 

Even so, members of the legislature are trying to codify these Gender X driver’s licenses into law.

In this instance, Gender X means nonbinary. On a driver’s license, M means male, F means female, and X means nonbinary — an umbrella term that encompasses anyone who identifies as a gender other than male and female.

The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed a bill (S.2213), 39-0, that would codify Gender X driver’s licenses into law in September 2021. Given the bipartisan support for it in the Massachusetts Senate, it’s hard to imagine this not becoming law under Healey. 


4.  Revenge Porn Ban

Massachusetts is one of two states (the other being South Carolina) where revenge porn is still legal.

While Healey has never publicly weighed in on the issue, she could become the governor to outlaw it for a couple of reasons.

The Massachusetts House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill in May 2022 (H.4498) banning revenge porn; it did not come up for a vote in the state Senate. However, given that the bill had a broad swath of support in the House, advocates for banning revenge porn are likely to keep pursuing a ban.

The proposal would make revenge porn offenses subject to the state’s criminal harassment laws. That carries a penalty of up to 2 1/2 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. The bill offers a less strict punishment for minors:  a fine of up to $500 and up to six months in a juvenile correctional facility.

If every state representative supports banning revenge porn then we can assume that most state senators feel the same way. It’s a common sense provision that even The Boston Globe supports

Plus, Healey likely wants to be popular and not too controversial as governor so she can pursue higher office at some point. One way to do that is by taking easy wins where she can get them — like banning revenge porn. 


5.  Physician-Assisted Suicide

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled last week that there is no right to physician-assisted suicide in the Massachusetts Constitution.

Yet Healey supports physician-assisted suicide, as New Boston Post has reported.

Governor Charlie Baker didn’t stake out a clear position on physician-assisted suicide, but was unenthusiastic about it. Now, with an incoming governor who supports it, supporters in the legislature will be invigorated.

Even so, supporters have never been able to get enough support to bring a pro-assisted-suicide bill to a vote. As in previous years, the real action on this matter will be in the state legislature.


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