Massachusetts Medical Society: Sexual and Reproductive Health

Sexual and Reproductive Health

Repro Health


THE ISSUE:

Access to sexual and reproductive health care services is critical for patient health and autonomy. Patients have a right to be informed about their sexual and reproductive health and should have access to safe, effective, affordable methods of family planning and fertility management. Sexual and reproductive health encompasses services related to comprehensive family planning, abortion, and contraception, sexually transmitted infections, sex education, and prenatal and perinatal care.

One of the most vital tenets of medical ethics governing the patient - physician relationship is autonomy, which is pillared by trust built on open communication about all health topics, including sexual and reproductive health. Despite the importance of accessible, high-quality reproductive care for individuals to overall health outcomes, state and federal lawmakers continue to try to restrict or limit access, often by limiting a physicians’ ability to provide necessary medical care.

OUR STANCE:

The Massachusetts Medical Society is committed to preserving and expanding access to the full spectrum of medically-appropriate reproductive health care. The MMS believes family planning resources, including contraception, abortion and comprehensive pregnancy care, are important aspects of the continuum of reproductive health care. Abortion is a legal, evidence-based form of medical care and patients have a constitutionally protected right to receive it. Access to care should not be determined by socioeconomic status and the MMS thus supports strengthening safety net programs to cover all reproductive health care options. The MMS opposes medically unnecessary restrictions on reproductive health care that ultimately undermine the health and well-being of patients.

The MMS supports:

  • Access to all reproductive care, including abortion and contraception
  • Physician’s ability to discuss all relevant health care options with patients
  • Patient autonomy related to choice of reproductive care options
  • Health insurance coverage of contraceptives, including emergency contraceptives, and long-acting reversible contraceptive devices and their insertion
  • Regulation to ensure timely refills of contraceptives to maximize compliance
  • Provider counseling about emergency contraception
  • Expanded access to emergency contraception, including over-the-counter access
  • Education about and provision of emergency contraception to sexual assault survivors
  • Current state mandates for expansion of insurance coverage for fertility treatments
  • Individual physician autonomy regarding the choice to provide abortion care
  • Buffer zones protecting physicall access to abortion clinics
  • Comprehensive, medically-accurate, inclusive sexual health education

CURRENT ADVOCACY:

The MMS is actively working with key stakeholders to protect access to sexual and reproductive health care on both a state and federal level.

In Massachusetts, the Medical Society voiced strong support of key elements of House bill 3320 and Senate Bill 1209, also known as the ROE Act. The MMS supports the proposed elimination of parental consent requirements for minors seeking abortion, updated and scientifically-sound terminology in the Massachusetts legal code, and expanded safety net coverage for abortion care.

The MMS strongly opposes recently enacted changes to the federal Title X program, which will prevent physicians from conveying relevant and important health care information to patients. The American Medical Association, together with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, is engaged in ongoing legal action challenging the Trump administration’s recent changes in the Title X family planning program, which would effectively prohibit federal funding for any organization that makes abortion referrals or provides abortion care. The MMS maintains that the proposed Title X changes will seriously undermine access to care for the 4 million people – including almost 70,000 people in Massachusetts – who rely on Title X for birth control, cancer screenings, and other critical preventive care.

The MMS additionally opposes recently enacted new rules expanding health care workers ability to refuse medical care based on religious or conscience objections. MMS supports the rights of physician's to conscientiously object to providing care that may be violative of their personally held religious or moral beliefs. However, MMS believes adequate protections exist in current state and federal law that protect clinicians’ religious freedom. The federal expansion of religious refusal rules undermines the basic tenets of a physician’s oath to provide care to all patients and will further jeopardize vulnerable patients’ access to necessary, at times life-saving health care.

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