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Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday signed an executive order aimed at protecting reproductive health care services in Massachusetts after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Abortion remains legal in the commonwealth, despite the high court’s decision, but the medical procedure is now — or soon will be — illegal in 16 states. Some states, like Texas, have passed laws that criminalize abortion, allowing health care providers who perform them to be charged.
Baker said in a statement that his new executive order will “further preserve” abortion rights in Massachusetts and protect “reproductive health care providers who serve out of state residents.”
“I am deeply disappointed in today’s decision by the Supreme Court which will have major consequences for women across the country who live in states with limited access to reproductive health care services,” the Republican governor said. “The Commonwealth has long been a leader in protecting a woman’s right to choose and access to reproductive health services, while other states have criminalized or otherwise restricted access … In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v Wade, it is especially important to ensure that Massachusetts providers can continue to provide reproductive health care services without concern that the laws of other states may be used to interfere with those services or sanction them for providing services that are lawful in the Commonwealth.”
Under the executive order, members of the state’s executive department agencies are prohibited from assisting with another state’s investigation into either an individual or entity who has received or provided reproductive health services that are legal in Massachusetts. The order also outlines that Massachusetts will not cooperate with any extradition requests from other states that are pursuing criminal charges against a person or persons for providing or receiving reproductive health services that are legal in Massachusetts.
It also protects Massachusetts health care providers offering reproductive care from losing their licenses or being subjected to other professional discipline as a result of out-of-state charges.
Read the text of the executive order below:
WHEREAS, the Constitution of the Commonwealth has long provided a guarantee of reproductive rights independent of and more expansive than any protection provided by the United States Constitution, and the General Laws have long ensured that access to reproductive health care services remains readily available in the Commonwealth;
WHEREAS, the Commonwealth has in recent years implemented additional measures to protect reproductive rights and to provide for continued access to reproductive health care services, even while other States have adopted laws that drastically limit or prohibit access to such services, which together may lead more individuals to seek reproductive health care services from Massachusetts health care providers;
WHEREAS, other States have also adopted and may continue to expand laws that may purport to impose civil or criminal liability or professional sanctions on health care professionals who provide and persons who seek and obtain reproductive health care services in the Commonwealth as permitted by the laws of the Commonwealth;
WHEREAS, health care professionals lawfully providing and persons lawfully seeking and obtaining reproductive health services in the Commonwealth should be protected from legal liability premised on and professional sanctions issued under the laws of other States when those services are lawful in the Commonwealth and meet Commonwealth standards for good professional practice;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Charles D. Baker, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution, Part 2, c. 2, § 1, Art. 1, do hereby order as follows:
This restriction shall not apply to any investigation or proceeding where the conduct that is subject to potential liability under the investigation or proceeding initiated in or by the other State would be subject to civil or criminal liability or professional sanction under the laws of the Commonwealth if committed in this Commonwealth. Notwithstanding the general prohibition of this section, agencies and individuals acting on their behalf may provide information or assistance in connection with such an investigation or proceeding in response to the written request of a person who is the subject of such an investigation or proceeding.
“Reproductive health care services” includes all medical, surgical, counseling, or referral services relating to the human reproductive system, including, but not limited to, services relating to pregnancy, contraception, or the termination of a pregnancy;
“Executive department” includes the office of the Governor, any executive office of the Commonwealth, as defined by section 2 of chapter 6A of the General Laws, and any agency, bureau, department, office, or division of the Commonwealth within or reporting to such an executive office of the Commonwealth.
This Executive Order shall continue in effect until amended, superseded, or revoked by subsequent Executive Order.
Given at the Executive Chamber in Boston this 24th day of June in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-two and of the Independence of the United States of America two hundred forty-five.
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