Healey Administration Recommends Public Colleges In Massachusetts Join Abortion Provider Trade Association

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2023/11/22/healey-administration-recommends-public-colleges-in-massachusetts-join-abortion-provider-trade-association/

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is recommending public colleges and universities join a national trade association for abortion providers.

It’s one of the suggestions the state agency made in a 47-page blueprint made public Wednesday that is designed to help public schools of higher learning “to take steps toward maximizing access to abortion services for their students” by providing pregnant female students abortion pills or referrals for them.

The document, called “Medication Abortion Toolkit for Public Colleges and Universities,” is designed “to assist” public colleges in Massachusetts “in preparing medication abortion readiness plans to provide, or make referrals for, medication abortion on college campuses.”

Public colleges in Massachusetts have until November 30, 2023 to submit a “readiness plan” to the state’s public health agency that shows they have relationships with abortion providers and – if they have a health center on campus – that they have determined “the feasibility of offering medication abortion on-site.”

“DPH strongly encourages schools that plan to provide abortion services on campus to become a member of the National Abortion Federation,” states recommendation number 4 of the document.

The National Abortion Federation is a trade association for abortion providers headquartered in Maryland.

The abortion-toolkit document foresees problems with staff members who find abortion immoral, and recommends “values clarification workshops” to help identify such people and work around their moral objections.

The document states:

 

For schools with on-campus clinics that plan to offer medication abortion on site, values clarification workshops are designed to assess attitudes of staff regarding the provision of medication abortion, and can be useful in combatting misconceptions and misinformation about medication abortion. These workshops may also inform the need to discuss and develop accommodations for staff who are not comfortable participating in medication abortion care delivery, and to integrate discussion of medication abortion care delivery into interview protocols with prospective clinical or support staff. Engaging in such workshops with all clinical and support staff who will be directly or indirectly involved in the provision of medication abortion care is a critical step to ensure the clinical team is prepared to launch a thoughtful, intentional, and successful medication abortion program on campus.

 

The document also addresses concerns that abortion opponents may protest the providing of abortions at college campuses – though it notes that the University of Massachusetts at Amherst has been providing abortions on campus since the fall of 2022 “without incident.”

“UMass Amherst does not widely advertise their services to decrease any potential pushback from community members …” the document states, citing a February 2023 Zoom interview with the executive director and medical director of the reproductive health office at the school.

The abortion-toolkit document notes that it “presents a broad array of activities that may not apply to all schools, but all schools are encouraged to consider.”

Providing abortion pills has been a priority for Governor Maura Healey, a Democrat, who in April 2023 quietly arranged for the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to purchase 15,000 doses, at a time when it seemed possible that a federal court could ban abortion pills.

The abortion-toolkit document cites a December 2021 study published by Smith College that estimated that between 600 and 1,380 female students at public colleges in Massachusetts have abortions each year. The authors expressed concerns in the study about travel time to abortion facilities, wait time for an appointment, lack of weekend appointments at some abortion facilities, and cost.

The toolkit document was produced by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Reproductive Equity Now Foundation.

Reproductive Equity Now is a private non-profit organization formerly known as NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts.

The document stems from a bill signed into law in July 2022 by then-governor Charlie Baker called“An Act Expanding Protections for Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Care.”

The document was released along with a press release on Wednesday, November 22, the day before Thanksgiving.

 

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