The past 12 months have been momentous for BARCC and our mission to end sexual violence. We opened a new satellite office and launched our dedicated legislative advocacy program. The strides we’ve made pushing for legislative and policy change at the Massachusetts State House to improve the lives of survivors of sexual assault and harassment have given us fuel to create even more change in the sessions ahead.
Now that the formal legislative session has ended, read on to share in the successes of the past legislative year—and get inspired for the work in front of us in the mission to end sexual violence.
- An Act relative to advancing contraceptive coverage and economic security in our state (ACCESS): This law protects access to birth control in Massachusetts, regardless of any federal rollbacks of protections, and ensures that nearly all forms of birth control are covered with no copay. The option of affordable reproductive care, including emergency contraception, is vital for survivors of sexual assault.
- An Act to protect access to confidential healthcare (PATCH): This law protects patient privacy. With the new law, young people on a parent’s insurance or people on a spouse’s insurance will not have to worry about health care services they receive (including related to care after sexual assault) being reported back to the insurance holder.
- Criminal Justice Reform Law: A section of this law creates a multidisciplinary task force to develop recommendations for a system to track sexual assault evidence collection kits, so survivors who have reported to law enforcement and have had a kit done will be able to track its status and location.
- An Act negating archaic statutes targeting young women (the NASTY Act): This law repealed a series of antiquated state laws, one of which was a ban on abortion that dated back to 1845. Access to reproductive care options is important to survivors of sexual assault.
- State budget: We were pleased with the budget lines that were approved to support sexual and domestic violence services as well as a range of other publicly funded services that survivors need.
While we did face some disappointments—the Healthy Youth Act, the Family Cap repeal, legislation addressing sexual assault in higher education, and Safe Communities didn’t move forward—we engaged in constructive and robust debate, and look forward to moving these issues forward in the next session.
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