Mass. lawmakers poised to shield providers of abortion, transgender care from bounty-style laws in other states

“Everyone — no matter where they live or how much money they have —should have the freedom to make health care decisions for themselves and their families.”

Pro-choice demonstrators rally outside the State House during a Pro-Choice Mother's Day Rally in Boston, Massachusetts on May 8, 2022. - Multiple US organizations that support abortion rights called for nationwide protests on May 14, after a leaked draft opinion showed the US Supreme Court was poised to overturn its landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images

Legislative leaders appear to have reached broad agreement to pass a measure aimed at shielding providers of abortion and transgender health care in Massachusetts from bounty-style laws being enacted by other states. House Speaker Ronald Mariano said Tuesday said his chamber is expecting to pass a wide-ranging reproductive rights bill that codifies part of an executive order Governor Charlie Baker signed on Friday and goes further to shield patients and providers from out-of-state legal action.

”We have Roe on the books. We codified it,” Mariano said. “Now we want to protect the people who have to use it.”

Legislators have said they do not believe they can protect individuals from prosecution for violating the law of another state, but are confident they can prevent Massachusetts law enforcement from aiding out-of-state prosecution for activity that is legal here. That would mean not filing summons or cooperating with investigations for providers or patients, and not extraditing providers accused of violating laws in other states by treating patients in Massachusetts. The bill, which the House is expected to approve on Wednesday, would also call for health insurers to provide abortion coverage without copayments or any form of cost-sharing. It would make emergency contraception more readily accessible by giving licensed pharmacists a standing order to dispense it on request. And it would create provisions that shield physicians, physician assistants, nurses, psychologists and social workers from repercussions for providing legal abortion or transgender care.


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