Eldridge: “The value of birth control is indisputable.”

 

On November 14, the Massachusetts Senate voted to unanimously enact the ACCESS Bill, which requires health insurance companies to provide all FDA-approved contraceptives free of charge. I was proud to speak in favor of the bill. Below is a transcript of my floor remarks – Jamie.

“Thank you Mr. President, and through you to the members. I rise in support of this bill.

I want to thank the Majority Leader from Worcester for her leadership on this important issue.

As the lead Senate sponsor of the ACCESS bill, she did a masterful job of working with reproductive health rights advocates, civil liberties groups, and health insurance companies to move this bill through the legislative process.

I also want to thank you, Mr. President, and the Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman for your collective leadership on gender equity and access to healthcare in Massachusetts.

As the Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Financial Services, I heard powerful testimony at our committee hearing from women who spoke out on the importance of affordable access to birth control in their lives.

What struck me the most was that many women highlighted the importance of having options when it comes to birth control.

I was proud to work closely with my House chair to shepherd this bill out of committee.

And I am proud that we’re here today to vote on this critical health equity legislation.

The ACCESS Bill requires health insurance companies to provide all FDA-approved contraceptives free of charge.

The ACCESS bill also increases reliable access to affordable contraceptives by allowing doctors to prescribe a 12-month supply of birth control that have been effective for a patient.

Mandating this coverage would also ensure that women have a right to free birth control, and that this right is not infringed upon by health insurance companies, reaffirming that personal health care decisions should be made only between a woman and her doctor.

For nearly 50 years, Mr. President, conservative Republicans have made it their top priority to repeal reproductive rights in American, and stop the progress of gender equality between men and women.

This coordinated campaign against women has been taking place at the federal level for some time now, and in the Trump administration, Republicans have become only more emboldened.

So what did Donald Trump do this year, Mr. President?

A month ago, the Trump Administration issued two rules that allow a private entity to deny coverage of contraceptives in their health insurance plans if they have any religious or moral objections to the medications.

So we should be proud today that we are fighting back against these attacks with legislation that would ensure access to free birth control for all women in Massachusetts.

The value of birth control is indisputable.

Birth control allows women to plan for a pregnancy, which can lead to better outcomes for both the mother and child.

Numerous studies have shown that the ability to plan a pregnancy is directly linked to lower infant and maternal mortality, lower mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and fewer abortions, especially unsafe abortions.

Access to birth control is also a part of a larger conversation on economic opportunity, and the freedom for women to pursue their goals in the workplace.

In a 2013 Guttmacher Institute survey:

  • 64 percent of patients at family planning clinics said birth control helped them to extend their education;
  • 71 percent said it helped them support themselves financially;
  • And 77 percent said it helped them take care of themselves or their families.

In an October 2017 survey of female entrepreneurs conducted by the Small Business Majority, more than half the women (56 percent) polled said that access to birth control and the ability to decide if and when to have children allowed them to advance in their careers and start their businesses.

Throughout this year, we have seen that the White House and a Republican-led Congress are obsessed with passing harmful legislation that would deny women essential medical care and decrease their ability to run their own lives.

And so, we have an obligation to our residents – and to our core Massachusetts values – to stand unified and uncompromising in our opposition to President Trump’s harmful anti-women agenda.

We must continue passing laws that reduce inequity in the workplace between women and men.

We have to remain committed to affordable healthcare access for all residents including, someday, making health care a right.

With the passage of ACCESS bill, we resist the Trump administration’s attack on women’s health, and take one step forward on women’s equality.

I urge my colleagues to vote yes.

Thank you Mr. President.”

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