Malden legislators voted to pass comprehensive legislation aimed to expand protections for reproductive and gender-affirming health care in Massachusetts
BOSTON – Friday, July 29, 2022 – This Tuesday, the Massachusetts Legislature passed H.4954, An Act expanding protections for reproductive and gender-affirming care, which will further protect access to reproductive and gender-affirming care in our Commonwealth. The comprehensive bill was designed to further protect and expand reproductive health care and gender-affirming services in the Commonwealth while establishing additional legal safeguards following the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
With this bill, the Legislature is taking significant steps to ensure that access to reproductive health care and gender-affirming services codified in 2020 throughout the Commonwealth by the ROE Act will remain protected in this state. The legislation provides legal protections to out-of-state patients, abortion care providers, pharmacists, mental health professionals, insurers and other people involved with the delivery of reproductive health services. It also states that law enforcement officials cannot cooperate with out-of-state or federal law agencies investigating abortion care that is legal in Massachusetts. If signed into law, this bill will also give care providers and out-of-state patients the option to countersue over abusive litigation and creates a standing order allowing licensed pharmacists following a training program, to provide emergency contraception.
After negotiations, the House and Senate were able to reach a compromise on Monday regarding a section in the bill on acceptable circumstances for abortions after 24 weeks. The final bill includes language change that updates the ROE Act and allows abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy in the case of “a grave fetal diagnosis”. This will ensure that women who face dire circumstances late in pregnancy are not forced to leave Massachusetts in order to access needed reproductive health care services while also allowing them to make critical decisions about their health with professionals who know their medical history and have their best interests in mind.
“As states across the country move to restrict access to abortion, reproductive health care, and gender-affirming services, I am proud that our legislature has taken these critical steps to protect access to these necessary services, their providers, and the rights of those who need them,” said Representative Steven Ultrino (D – Malden). “With this bill, as well as the ROE Act in 2020, Massachusetts has continued its promise to all women and transgender individuals: letting them know that they have equal rights, and we as a legislative body will continue to defend and safeguard their fundamental rights to reproductive and gender-affirming care.”
“Voting with a bipartisan supermajority to enact this bill was a powerful moment,” said Representative Kate Lipper-Garabedian (D – Melrose). “In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, the Massachusetts Legislature has responded swiftly to reject that cruel decision and to protect and expand access to reproductive health, including abortion. During deliberation in the House, I was proud to speak in support of this bill, emphasizing that abortion is not a partisan or political issue. It is a human rights issue.”
“The Reproductive Health bill will ensure that anybody requiring health care for any reason, will be able to do so in Massachusetts. The Commonwealth has the best hospitals in the world, and it would be an injustice to prevent anyone from their treatment,” said Representative Paul Donato (D – Medford). “This bill also legally protects providers from being prosecuted for any service they provide.”
“In the wake of the shocking Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v Wade, it is imperative for the Commonwealth to ensure that abortion providers are fully protected and patients, whether from Massachusetts or other states, have access to the care they need,” said Senator Jason Lewis. “I was proud to join with my House and Senate colleagues in passing this critical legislation to further protect and expand access to reproductive and gender-affirming healthcare in Massachusetts. I’m especially pleased that the bill includes an amendment I filed to expand access to medication abortion services on our public college and university campuses to help students overcome the significant barriers to care that many face today.”
H.4954, An Act expanding protections for reproductive and gender-affirming care, has been passed by the House and Senate.