The Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus endorses several bills during each legislative session. The MWPC offers testimony at hearings and notifies its members and supporters about crucial opportunities for advocacy and lobbying. The bills that have been selected for this legislative session are bills regarding Emergency Contraception and Health Education. Below is an overview of the two pieces of legislation.
Emergency Contraception (House 2438 Senate 546)
This bill has been filed for the first time. EC, commonly known as the “morning-after pill” is most effective the sooner a woman takes it after unprotected sex but can be used within five days of unprotected sex. The Food and Drug Administration has approved emergency contraception EC as a contraceptive method for use after sexual intercourse, when contraceptives have failed, or when no contraceptives were used. EC is not RU-486. If a woman takes EC during pregnancy it will not harm the developing fetus or cause an abortion. The legislation will require hospital emergency rooms to make emergency contraception available to rape survivors and will also allow pharmacists to dispense emergency contraception, through a collaborative agreement with a physician. According to a 2002 survey by the Mass NARAL Foundation, one fourth of all hospital emergency rooms in Massachusetts failed to make EC available to rape survivors seeking the medication. The Massachusetts Medical Society, Mass. American College of OBGYN’s, Jane Doe Inc. and the Mass. Board of Registration in Pharmacy have all endorsed the bill.
An Act to Provide Health Education in Schools (House 1258, Senate 295)
An Act to Provide Health Education in Schools would insert health education, as defined by the Massachusetts Comprehensive Health Curriculum Frameworks and as required by the Supreme Judicial Court, into the core curriculum. School districts would be required to teach health education in grades K-12. In 1993, the Supreme Judicial Court required that the Commonwealth provide an adequate education for those enrolled in the public schools. It further defined "adequacy" by requiring that students possess specific capabilities including, "sufficient self-knowledge and knowledge of his or her mental and physical wellness". The Massachusetts DOE created a science-based health education framework in response to the Supreme Judicial Court decision. The DOE mandates that every school district implement this framework, yet no mechanism exists to enforce the compliance of the school district unless health education is part of the core curriculum.