Budget FY24- Amendment 373, Mifepristone Access
I rise in support of Amendment 373.
It’s been less than a year since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Since then, the attacks on reproductive freedom throughout our country have been relentless. No less than 18 states have taken action to severely restrict or ban abortion.
And, earlier this year, extremists continue their pursuit of a national abortion ban by suing the FDA to revoke its authorization of mifepristone, the first drug used in the two-drug regimen for medication abortion.
In April, a federal district court in Texas issued a nationwide injunction pausing the FDA’s approval of the drug, a decision that had no basis in medicine, science, or law.
Mifepristone is a safe, effective, and commonly used drug that makes up nearly half of all abortions in Massachusetts, and over half of all abortions nationwide.
It’s important to recognize that the district court decision was not only a challenge to reproductive rights, but also a challenge to the field of medicine and to science itself.
The decision cites extensively to the Comstock Act of 1870, which has largely been considered dead letter law since the Supreme Court established the right to contraceptives in the early 1970s.
The Comstock Act is named for Anthony Comstock, a 19thcentury anti-vice crusader whose views were so outlandish that he sought to prevent medical students from receiving anatomy textbooks—which he believed to be obscene—through the U.S. Postal Service.
We might find that notion laughable today—a bizarre belief from a backwards century—and yet the same logic that led Anthony Comstock to argue that it was obscene for medical students to study the human body underlies this most recent assault on reproductive rights.
Only by denying medicine and science can you deny the safety of and efficacy of mifepristone.
Although the Supreme Court put the Texas court’s decisions on hold while litigation continues in the lower courts, we do not know if that reprieve will last.
Reproductive freedom hangs in the balance, and we must take steps to secure it from whatever decision might be handed down from an increasingly extreme judiciary.
Here in the Commonwealth, we never stand by when our civil rights are under attack.
When the Texas court halted the FDA’s 23-year-long approval of mifepristone, the governor worked with the University of Massachusetts Amherst to purchase and stockpile 15,000 doses of mifepristone and provide additional funds for providers to purchase their own stockpiles.
Now, we must ensure that the University is reimbursed for its leadership and for acting quickly in our time of need.
This amendment invests $1 million in the Public University Health Center Sexual and Reproductive Health Preparedness Fund.
These funds will reimburse UMass Amherst for its bulk purchase of mifepristone and ensure that this medication can be distributed to providers across the state.
Today in Massachusetts, we stockpile mifespristone, because that’s what we need to do to guarantee our residents’ access to health care.
If the need ever arises, we’ll stockpile anatomy textbooks, too—but let’s hope that day never comes.
I am grateful for your support of this amendment.