Due to grants awarded to a number of community organizations and healthcare providers statewide to help expand access to reproductive healthcare, an Island health organization will soon be able to provide abortion services — a first on the Island.
The Baker-Polito administration announced Wednesday in a press release that Health Imperatives Martha’s Vineyard has been chosen as one of 11 organizations that will be receiving a cumulative $4.1 million in funding. This will add to the current services provided by Health Imperatives, which include primary care, mental healthcare, crisis counseling, group support, advocacy for victims of assault and trafficking, nutrition assistance, and emergency shelter.
Along with helping to provide abortion care, the grants awarded will allow health providers to support increased access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, including costs associated with abortion services, such as transportation, childcare payments, lodging, translation services, and abortion doulas, the release states.
The announcement is “one more step in affirming this administration’s commitment to ensuring access to reproductive healthcare, including access to the full spectrum of reproductive health services,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said in the release; “these funds help fulfill that commitment by expanding access to timely and safe reproductive healthcare that meets the needs of individuals and families.”
President and CEO of Health Imperatives Julia Kehoe told The Times that the organization is “very excited,” as the grant allows the organization’s locations to better address the existing gaps in reproductive healthcare. The award and its purpose, she said, is “very consistent with Health Imperative’s approach in addressing [those] gaps.” Kehoe praised state Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro, Cyr and Rep. Dylan Fernandes, D-Falmouth, “for their leadership on this issue.”
“This is a long-sought victory for reproductive rights and abortion access on Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod, and Nantucket,” Cyr said in a text message to The Times Wednesday afternoon. “These funds will bring medical abortion to Martha’s Vineyard, Hyannis, and Nantucket by mid-2023 … These services have been unavailable on Cape Cod since 2008, and medical abortion has never been available on Martha’s Vineyard, forcing many to travel to off-Cape clinics over 90 miles away. I’m particularly grateful to Health Imperatives for their partnership to bring reproductive health services to Islanders and Cape Codders.”
Fernandes called it long overdue. “All women have a fundamental right to access safe and affordable abortion. But on the Cape and Islands, women have been forced for years to make expensive trips off-Cape or out of state to access abortion services. This funding to Health Imperatives, which has locations on Martha’s Vineyard and Barnstable, breaks down barriers to care and gives women across the Cape and Islands access to this fundamental healthcare right,” Fernandes said. “Massachusetts is a state that will continue to uphold women’s right to abortion and act as a safe haven for abortion access and reproductive health. I remain unwavering in my commitment to fighting to make abortion accessible to every woman in our state and in our country.”
A total of $708,889 has been awarded to Health Imperatives, Katheleen Conti, assistant director of media relations for the state’s department of health, told The Times in an email. It will be up to the Health Imperatives organization how to split the funds among its seven existing locations, including the Vineyard.