With the U.S. Supreme Court seemingly on the precipice of overturning the decades-old reproductive health care ruling Roe v. Wade, now is the time for Massachusetts businesses to review the practices and policies they have to support women in their workforce, Attorney General Maura Healey said Tuesday.
After ticking through issues that she has worked with the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce on — gender pay equity, the defense of same-sex marriage, student debt, transgender anti-discrimination protections and more — Healey called on the business community to prepare for abortion laws to change around the country and to ensure they have supportive policies in place for their workers.
“As a result of abortion restrictions laws in our country, we’re estimated to lose about $105 billion a year in GDP. Why? Because it actually affects whether women go to school, stay in school, join the workforce, stay in the workforce, contribute to our economy,” Healey said Tuesday at Boston’s Seaport Hotel. “And so I raise this in this room of friends because I want this to be something that you’re thinking about, thinking about how you as organizations and companies are going to be helpers in this moment because you’ve got a lot of women out there in your own ranks who are depending on that, who are really depending on that.”
Healey said some businesses have changed what they offer for payments or stipends to cover out-of-state travel for abortion care. Massachusetts law already guarantees access to abortion, but in the wake of the May 2 leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that would strike down the federal abortion right enshrined in Roe v. Wade, legislative leaders have pledged to explore additional action.
The Senate included licensing protections for doctors and other professionals involved with providing reproductive care in its budget. Healey said Tuesday that she is part of the talks around additional protections.
“We’ve been working closely with the Legislature right now on things that we need to do to make sure that Massachusetts is protecting providers and patients, making sure that we are protecting them here in Massachusetts and also from other civil and criminal investigations and prosecutions, potentially, from entities outside of Massachusetts,” the attorney general said. “We need to continue to grow the number of providers to this kind of care around the country, just reproductive health generally, primary care generally. and so these are some of the things that we’re working with the Legislature on right now to make sure that providers and patients are protected.”