Representative Mike Connolly joined his Cambridge and Somerville colleagues in the House of Representatives yesterday in passing legislation which provides $8 million to women’s reproductive health organizations in Massachusetts.
This state funding will offset the loss of federal funding through the Trump Administration’s changes to the Title X program, otherwise known as the Trump "Gag Rule." According to Planned Parenthood, the gag rule would "put health care providers...in an impossible position: withhold information from patients or get pushed out of a program designed to ensure that people struggling to make ends meet can still access birth control, STI testing, cancer screenings, and other essential reproductive health care."
The House approved the supplemental budget item, H.3638, by an overwhelming vote of 140 to 14.
"In the 27 months since Donald Trump took office, we in Massachusetts have repeatedly taken steps to resist the Trump administration’s abhorrent policies relative to women's reproductive rights," said Rep. Connolly. "This legislation will ensure family practice organizations can continue their important work, and I am grateful to Speaker DeLeo, Chairman Michlewitz, and all of my House colleagues who stood together today in support of reproductive freedom and family planning services," Rep. Connolly added.
The state funding, valued at $8 million through Fiscal Year 2019 and 2020, is intended to ensure the continuity of clinical family planning services, education and counseling, physical exams, and sexually transmitted disease testing and cancer screening at organizations across the Commonwealth. Under the Title X program, clinical family planning providers focus on serving clients under 250 percent of the federal poverty level.
"As a nurse, I saw firsthand how important it is to empower all individuals, men and women of all ages, to make their own choices and control their health and lives," said Rep. Denise Garlick, Vice Chair of the House Committee on Ways & Means. "The federal government, by issuing the first domestic gag rule in the history of our country, targets women, their reproductive choices, and essential preventative health services like STD screening and treatment, breast, cervical, or prostate cancer detection, and HIV testing. I am proud that the House of Representatives is moving deliberately and decisively to ensure the health needs of more than 75,000 Massachusetts residents."
The Bill now moves to the state Senate for further consideration today.