Island clinic to provide abortion services

The governor announced Wednesday that Health Imperatives on Martha's Vineyard is a recipient of grant funds to allow for abortion and other reproductive services. — Rich Saltzberg

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.


  1. It’s important to have these services available to women, especially in an island community.

    Abortions should be the last thing considered when a woman wants or needs to consider pregnancy termination, but it ALWAYS needs to be an option! Glad the clinic received the grant… let’s a responsible gesture!

    • If there is nothing wrong with it why should it be the last thing considered? Pray tell me Ms.Blackburn.

      • To Engleman,
        There are hormonal changes that take place both mentally, physically and emotionally whether a woman delivers a child or has it aborted. These changes “can” but don’t necessarily occur in all women, but as abortion is a “final “ move, it is best to consider all the repercussions involved in ones decision.

        It is better for a woman to have an abortion than to have a child and neglect it because it is unwanted…. That’s when you get a whole other set of social and emotional problems, but judging from your previous comments, my guess is that you are “stuck in the mud” on this topic, and can’t see or understand reasonable points of view, so I know this response won’t change your mind!

        • There are all kinds of Social and emotional problems with unwanted grandmothers but we don’t get rid of them. Whatever one thinks of abortion, there is something alive in there. One can’t deny that. And most abortions are on a woman that has something alive in there. Who is stuck in the mud.

      • andy—Ms Blackburn said nothing about it being right or wrong. Please comment on what the person actually said.

  2. Yes…it is about time. Done early it’s a simple procedure. I worked in OB-GYN offices that did abortions on the premises. It is as safe and quick as having a tooth extracted.

      • Not yet a
        The analogy is that like a tooth extraction, an early abortion is a quick and simple procedure.

      • You are very quick to make a decision about someone else’s body and their lives for the next 18 years. Yes not getting pregnant would have been perfect except it is not always what happens, rape, molestation and birth control may not work.
        Conveniently YOU don’t ever have to worry about that.
        You just want to control females and suppress them back to being a possessions and remove them from leadership positions especially in government.
        It might be a viable and it might not.
        Do you know how many pregnancies end in a non viable fetus? Do you know what it feels like to carry a baby to term and it not be alive? It not be able to survive outside of the womb?
        No you don’t.
        You just need to control and judge.

        • Believe me, I am married for 53 years and she is still in control. It’s not about control. It’s about killing an innocent.

          • To Engleman,
            Take a moment and scroll to Carla Coopers email and take a look at the website she has provided…even I was surprised to see how un- human- like a fetus is.

      • John– when you order an omelette in a restaurant, do you sometimes get a roast chicken ? Fortunately, most chefs know the difference between a potential chicken (an egg) and an actual chicken.

      • So who decided that John Axel gets to declare when life “begins” ?
        Viability is the term for when most open-minded individuals consider a fetus to have a “life”. This is felt to be at the 23-24 week period of a pregnancy.
        Are you suggesting a fertilized egg is “alive” ? When a newly pregnant woman slips on the ice and loses her embryo, is it manslaughter ? Did you formulate your opinion on when life begins from a dusty old book ? Because we fortunately live in a nation where separation of church and state is a supposed tenet. If that doesn’t work for your personal moral compass, Iran is just a plane ticket away. Assuming you love and care for that wife of 53 years (congrats on that ! – to her…) , let her stay here.

        • Thanks, Mike . . . . My belief (and it’s the only belief I can argue since it is mine) . . . is that Life begins at first breath (no fetus is breathing in the womb) and that life ends at last breath taken. I for one believe . . . hands off women’s bodies (no pun intended) and that each decision to have or not have an abortion is entirely up to the pregnant woman.

  3. To clarify…the term medical that the two pill sequence? Will surgical abortion be available as well?

  4. Can someone tell me why the 2-pill, FDA-approved in-all-50 states medical abortion is not offered by our primary care doctors here, or by MV Hospital? Ideology must be the reason. These medicines are 97 percent effective in the first timester, can be taken privately at home, and have less complications than Tylenol.

      • You’re right John, nothing to see her. Because what a person chooses to do with their body, is not your business.

      • A fetus is not a life.

        It is not a life until it is born.

        And who the heck do you think you are to tell women what they can and cannot do with their bodies?

        • It’s not alive until it’s born? Do you really believe that? Tell me it doesn’t matter but don’t tell us it’s not alive. Ignorance.

      • Potential for life, just like every human egg and sperm.
        To allow any of them to die is murder.
        Comment boards are the theater of the absurd.

    • Geraldine, don’t know if this helps answer your question. When I was on the Friends of Family Planning Board I inquired about this. The first of the two pills has to be administered by an MD who has been certified by the pharmaceutical company that makes the pill. The patient has to dissolve the pill in a particular spot in her mouth. The second pill can be take several hours later at home. I’m not sure if these regulations still info is a few years ago. It’s a ridiculous process, which I believe is yet another hindrance put in the way of someone who is trying to exercise a constitutional right to make a choice.

      • Thanks Susan. There is now an FDA approved generic version. These pills can be administered following a telehealth visit or even in some places by a pharmacist. It makes me crazy that Vineyard women have been forced to travel rather than get them here from their own doctors. I can’t see any reason for it whatsoever.

    • Ms Cooper. About 6 percent of abortions are done after 15 weeks of pregnancy. If you would look at 3D ultrasound photos of babies in the womb you should be shocked. No one here is arguing about taking a pill the day after a rape or incest. Many of us are suggesting that abortion is often used as a tool of birth control and we believe unlike Aaron Levy that it is taking a life. Unfortunately many people believe should be available at anytime. Maybe you. And if you do, then surely it is taking a life.

  5. If you don’t have ovaries, abortion is not something you have a say in.
    Some of these comments are predictable and ridiculous.

    • What’s wrong with you? There would be no baby without a man. He should have an equal say in what happens. Honestly I’m ashamed to live in this community that champions killing babies. I’m not against a woman’s right to do it, I’m against people saying it’s not killing a child. There’s no argument that can support that. I get that there are circumstances that killing a child may be in the best interests of a women’s life. Let’s acknowledge that and provide help to the women who decide to kill their child. It must be heartbreaking.

      • Oh, and as to your being ashamed to live here, no one is forcing you to stay. There are plenty of states that have now criminalized abortion.

        Feel free to move there.

      • John Axel
        There is nothing “wrong” with me. Go look in a mirror and repeat the question you pose. Each time I read your comments that same question arises.


    • The real world has abortion services, and it seems like the women of Marthas Vineyard have been getting them as a boat trip has not stop them. Anyone who wants an abortion in Massachusetts has no problem getting one. Some states still allow you to have an abortion days before and days after a birth so tell me when it should stop. I have no problem with the liberal world, killing their own as it makes the world a better place.

      • Tell us which states allow an abortion days before, or after, a birth.
        Do you ever stop to consider how ridiculous you sound, before you make such obviously wrong comments?
        Also, I must wonder if you have any family members who are liberals, and if you would be OK with their demise.

      • Bob– Which states allow for abortion days after birth ?
        Perhaps the state of mind of a person who has no grip on reality, or cares not at all about the truth?

        But as for the liberals “killing their own”.
        Pretty harsh statement to imply that dead liberals make the world a better place. But ok– if you are good with that, you are free to believe that only liberals have abortions and that getting vaccinated against COVID is a dumb idea.

  7. The government has NO SAY in what a person (in this case a woman) chooses to do with his/her/their body. The overturning of ROE v Wade is just the tip of the iceberg, Folks. OUR FREEDOMS ARE IN JEOPARDY.

    Glad to see the Vineyard saying NO to government control and YES to Freedom!

    • Well, as soon as the religious zealots on the SCOTUS made that decision our own Republican governor began a process to ensure a woman’s right would not be curtailed. So it’s not just MV, but the whole state.

    • Ya, the Vineyard is saying NO to government control. That’s laughable. What about our local governments telling us we MUST be all electric by 2040?

      • John–All electric by 2040 is a goal– In my opinion an unattainable one.
        You know that, but you choose to put up a false equivalence argument to divide us.
        There are no local officials mandating anything– Your statement is a falsehood to put it lightly.
        So to answer your whataboutism question, they are not telling us anything of the sort.
        At least you could make an attempt to make it look like you are saying something true, rather than just blowing the dog whistle for the right wingers to have some red meat.

    • Sorry, it is not the government that is saying this it is the people and all people have a right to their opinions just because you do not agree with them does not make the opinion invalid. If the majority of the people in the state vote to end abortions, then that is democracy at work. This is the opposite of what you’re thinking this is getting the federal government off of the states back. Freedom to the people to decide.

      • Agreed opinions are a right. Feel free to share ! But the spewing of ignorant rhetoric (ie. “some states still allow you to have an abortion days before and days after a birth”) just serves to diminish any intelligent discussion and quite frankly should not have been published here….we have Fox “news” for that kind of garbage.

  8. If a mother can elect to abort a baby, a father should be able to elect to not want to be a father or financially support said child. What’s fair is fair.

    • If you don’t want to be a father don’t have sex with women! Otherwise you may end up being responsible financially. That’s fair.

          • Scott- Your sentiment is in the right place, but, you know, it was not so many years ago many states had laws against interracial marriage.
            In fact, Alabama only repealed the last law against it in 2000. The Supreme court decision on the case of Loving Vs. the state of Virginia was decided in 1967.
            So let’s think about the not too far fetched scenario where a white supremacist gets elected governor in some state, and re implements those old laws in order to make their state great again. Would you consider that to be government overreach, or would you think that fell within the bounds of “states rights”? Mississippi and North Carolina still have laws on the books prohibiting fornication.

        • Don, when I say legal I am referring to children and people that can’t give consent. Not absurd law’s trying to criminalize personal behavior.

          • It’s either legal or it isn’t.

            Scott—I think restricting a woman’s right to control her body is absurd.
            Some people think interracial or same sex marriage is absurd. My point is, who defines “absurd” ?
            “Legal” is very different than consensual.


            The radical right activist judges of the SCOTUS are chopping down civil liberties.

          • Don, you are being silly with semantics. You know what I mean. Non of us male, female or other have total control over our bodies in a legal sense. There are reasonable restrictions on all of us. It’s illegal to commit suicide, get abortions in the third trimester off the top of my head.

    • Real men take responsibility for their actions.

      And if that means financial responsibility, well, I guess it’s time to man up.

      Oh, and a fetus is not a baby.

  9. This is an important threshold, access is important. Allowing people, specifically women, to make their own decisions about their reproductive health and bodies is crucial for promoting gender equality. Women should have the right to choose whether or not to continue a pregnancy, and they should be able to access safe and legal abortion services if they choose to do so. Restricting access to abortion disproportionately affects marginalized communities, including low-income individuals and people of color.

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