Boston's Morning Newsletter
3 ways Mass. is moving to protect the abortion pill mifepristone
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It didn’t take long for elected officials in Massachusetts to jump into action after last Friday’s abortion pill court ruling. In fact, local Democrats were working behind the scenes to protect access to the drug mifepristone before the pill’s legality was thrown into national jeopardy.
While medication abortions are still possible with just one drug, Gov. Maura Healey announced plans Monday to ensure that the more effective two-pill regimen remains “safe, legal and accessible” in Massachusetts for the near future — despite the court orders and confusion.
Here are the three pillars of the plan:
1. A year’s supply of mifepristone: Healey announced that, at her request, the University of Massachusetts Amherst ordered roughly 15,000 doses of mifepristone last week — enough to supply the entire state for more than a year. The doses, which are expected to arrive this week, will be distributed to providers around the state.
- Why UMass? Under a 2022 state law, the school began offering abortion pills to students on campus last year through their own health services — so they already had a supply contract and the required FDA approvals. As a result, they were able to get their order filled in just one day.
- Zoom out: Massachusetts isn’t the only one stockpiling abortion pills. Washington struck a deal for three year’s worth of mifepristone, and California is stocking up on another drug.
2. Protecting providers: Healey also signed an executive order Monday clarifying that the 2022 law protecting abortion providers from out-of-state legal action also applies to medication abortions and mifepristone. “This means that providers, including pharmacists, can continue to stock and dispense mifepristone,” Healey said, adding that the order will also “protect providers and patients from consequences for accessing this essential care.”
3. An extra million: Healey’s administration is also chipping in $1 million from the Department of Public Health’s budget to help other local health care providers — in addition to UMass — buy even more mifepristone while it’s still on the market.
- How much will that buy? For comparison’s sake, Healey’s office says UMass’s 15,000-dose order cost around $675,000.
- Go deeper: WBUR’s Martha Bebinger has more on Healey’s actions — and the reactions from proponents and critics.
Heads up: House Democrats are expected to unveil their answer to Healey’s tax relief proposal today. We still don’t know the exact details of what it will include, but expect something similar to the package the Legislature agreed on last summer.
- What’s next: The House is slated to vote on the bill Thursday. Then, the focus will turn to the Senate. Senate President Karen Spilka signaled to reporters yesterday that they’ll be putting forward a “progressive, permanent tax reform” proposal, too.
Attention snowbirds: There’s about to be a new way to fly to Florida. JetBlue and the Massachusetts Port Authority announced plans Monday for two new nonstop flights from Worcester’s airport.
- The first will offer year-round daily trips to Orlando, beginning June 15 (restoring a route that was canceled in 2020).
- The second will offer seasonal flights to Fort Myers during the winter — starting at twice-a-week, but ramping up to every day from mid-February through March for Red Sox spring training.
- Is it worth giving Worcester a try? JetBlue is dangling particularly cheap flights to Orlando this summer, with fares widely available at as low as $30 each way. Plus, you can park at Worcester airport for just $7 a day, or $42 a week. You might as well go catch a Woo Sox game (and say hi to Rick) while you’re in the neighborhood!
Officials in Cambridge say the 114-year-old steeple at Faith Lutheran Church will be torn down today, after it was heavily damaged by a fire on Sunday. (The cause of the fire is still under investigation.)
- Police say that the two blocks of Broadway between Norfolk and Prospect Street will remain closed for “most, if not all,” of the day.
P.S. — Boston Mayor Michelle Wu has declared today a citywide day of remembrance for the late Mel King, whose funeral is this afternoon in the South End. Yesterday’s episode of Radio Boston devoted an hour to remembering King as the community knew him, with local leaders like former acting Boston mayor Kim Janey and ex-city councilor Tito Jackson. Listen to the episode — or read the highlights — here.