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Because the current political climate has made it clear that abortion rights are up for debate in courts, it is critical to ensure that every court in Massachusetts - and nationwide - is committed to upholding the constitutional right to access abortion. Governor Charlie Baker is responsible for nominating five justices to the seven-member Supreme Judicial Court, the highest court in our Commonwealth, in the course of his first term as governor. This gives him an unprecedented chance to shape the future of the court, and of Massachusetts law, for generations to come. So when Gov. Baker explicitly refused to consider his nominees' willingness to uphold the constitutional right to abortion in court in February 2016, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts undertook a campaign to ensure the highest court in the Commonwealth would uphold abortion rights. Over 1,000 NARAL members took action as part of the campaign, including over 50 members who attended the nomineesí confirmation hearings and a NARAL-led press conference in person. As a result of NARALís campaign, Massachusetts Governorís Council members secured the guarantee that Gov. Baker refused to give: that each nominee would uphold Roe v. Wade. Now, Gov. Baker is expected to make two more nominations over the course of the next year - and NARAL members are ready to ensure that Gov. Baker guarantees the same protections for abortion rights in these nominations as well.
Confidential Healthcare Access Bill
In the 2015-2016 legislative session, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts worked in partnership with the PATCH (Protecting Access to Confidential Healthcare) coalition to pass S.2138, An Act to Protect Access to Confidential Healthcare in the Massachusetts State Senate. This legislation will ensure that everyone in the Commonwealth can access to safe and confidential healthcare by making sure that information about sensitive care related to reproductive health, domestic violence or sexual assault, mental health or substance use disorders, or HIV/AIDS stays between patient and doctor. The Massachusetts State Senate passed the bill on March 10th, 2016 with overwhelming and bipartisan support. Now, NARAL and our members continue the fight in the 2017-2018 legislative session to make sure this important bill passes through both chambers and becomes law.
Paid Family and Medical Leave Bill
In the 2015-2016 legislative session, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts participated in an effort with dozens of other leading advocacy groups in Massachusetts to implement An Act Establishing a Family and Medical Leave and Temporary Disability Leave Insurance Program (S.2446). This bill will offer job protection, partial wage replacement, and continued benefits to families taking time off to care for a newborn child, adopted child, or sick family member. With these measures in place, Bay State workers will be empowered to make the decisions that are best for themselves and their families without having to choose between their family or their paycheck. On July 30th, thanks to the combined advocacy efforts of the groups involved, the Massachusetts Senate overwhelmingly voted in support of Paid Family and Medical Leave. Now, NARAL and our members will continue the fight in the 2017-2018 legislative session to make sure this important bill passes through both chambers and becomes law.
Public Accommodations Law
In 2016, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts joined a coalitional effort led by Freedom Massachusetts to guarantee transgender Bay Staters with full and equal protection under Massachusetts law. The bill, An Act Relative to Transgender Anti-Discrimination (S.735), provides critical anti-discrimination protections that ensure that everyone in the Commonwealth can access hospitals, hotels, restaurants, and other public places without facing discrimination on the basis of gender identity. On July 8, Governor Charlie Baker signed the Public Accommodations Bill into law; and it went into effect on October 1st.
Pay Equity Law
In 2016, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts worked with the Massachusetts Equal Pay Coalition to close the income gap for Massachusetts women. This law prohibits employers from asking about previous salaries in the hiring process and ensures that employees cannot be fired for discussing their salaries openly. The law also encourages employers to conduct internal reviews of their payroll to ensure equitable compensation. On August 1, 2016, Governor Charlie Baker signed the Pay Equity Bill into law. The new law will go into effect on July 1, 2018.