MA House Passes Reproductive Rights Legislation
BOSTON – Friday, July 1, 2022 – This week, Representative Bill Driscoll Jr. (D-Milton) joined his colleagues in passing comprehensive legislation to further protect reproductive health care and gender-affirming services in the Commonwealth. Although abortion remains legal in Massachusetts due to the Legislature’s efforts in 2020 to codify and expand access, the Massachusetts House today took additional efforts to further protect these rights and establish additional safeguards following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The bill includes confidentiality measures for providers, mandates insurance coverage for abortion services with no cost sharing, expands access to emergency contraception, and provides legal protections to providers, out-of-state patients, and insurers.
“The Supreme Court has become a rogue entity, and their recent rulings put countless people across the nation in unnecessary risk,” remarks Rep. Driscoll. “I am proud of House leadership for taking swift action in the days following the Supreme Court's effort to roll the reproductive health calendar in the United States back 50 years.”
“The Supreme Court’s decision to completely overturn Roe v. Wade represents a fundamental attack on women’s rights. Now, more than ever, it is the responsibility of leaders in Massachusetts to ensure that the Commonwealth can serve as a sanctuary for women seeking reproductive health care, and for providers whose licenses could be at risk because of this recent Supreme Court decision,” said House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). “I want to thank Chairs Michlewitz and Day, as well as all my colleagues in the House, for their commitment to protecting a woman’s right to choose, and for their hard work that facilitated the passage of this legislation.”
“As women’s rights face continued attacks from both the Supreme Court and other states, we here in the Commonwealth will continue to not only protect these rights, but expand upon them,” said Representative Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston), Chair of the House Committee on Ways & Means. “We will not hesitate to act to protect reproductive rights and to ensure that our providers and patients are protected from being prevented from offering this critical form of healthcare.”
"All of our residents deserve safe access to necessary healthcare and now, with that access in jeopardy, the Legislature must protect Massachusetts residents and health practitioners,” said Representative Kate Hogan (D-Stow), Speaker Pro Tempore. “Today the House passed H.4930, a comprehensive response to last week's Supreme Court ruling that codifies access to abortion services, reproductive care, and gender-affirming services and protects the providers of these services."
“Five members of the Supreme Court recently said states can decide whether millions of American women should be treated as second class citizens,” said Representative Michael S. Day (D-Stoneham), House Chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. “Today, we in the Massachusetts House answered that question by reaffirming that our constitution and our laws make clear that women control their own bodies and that we will always step up to protect the fundamental rights of our residents here in the Commonwealth.”
This legislation will expand upon the 2020 ROE Act through numerous efforts, including:
Allows providers to apply to the Secretary of State to shield the health care professional’s address from public disclosure
Designates reproductive health care and gender-affirming services as legally protected health care activity
Reaffirms that access to reproductive health care and gender-affirming services are a right secured by the constitution or laws of the Commonwealth
Requires insurance coverage for abortion and abortion-related care without being subject to deductibles, coinsurance, copayments, or other cost-sharing requirements
Requires the Department of Public Health (DPH) to issue a statewide standing order to authorize licensed pharmacists to dispense emergency contraception
This legislation also offers protections for providers and out-of-state patients in Massachusetts by:
Prohibiting the Boards of Registration of various health professions from disciplining or taking adverse action on an application for registration of any person who assists with reproductive health care or gender-affirming services
Prohibiting Massachusetts law enforcement from providing information related to an investigation or inquiry into legally protected health care services to federal or another state’s law enforcement agencies, quasi-law enforcement agencies, or private citizens
Prohibiting medical malpractice insurers from discriminating against a provider that offers reproductive or gender-affirming health care services
Protecting Massachusetts residents from efforts to enforce court rulings from other states based on health care activity that is legally protected in Massachusetts
Prohibiting any Massachusetts court from ordering a person in Massachusetts to give testimony or produce documents for use in connection with any proceeding in an out-of-state tribunal concerning legally protected health care activity
Protecting Massachusetts residents and providers from lawsuits seeking to penalize health care activities legally protected in Massachusetts
Prohibiting a justice from issuing a summons for a person in Massachusetts to testify or appear in a court in another state in prosecutions or grand jury investigations related to legally protected health care activity
Limiting the Governor’s authority to surrender persons to acts that would be punishable under Massachusetts law and prohibiting them from surrendering a person charged in another state as a result of engaging in legally protected health care activity
Updating language from the 2020 ROE Act to ensure that impacted patients are able to receive in-state care
“An Act expanding protections for reproductive rights” (H. 4930) passed the Massachusetts House of Representatives 136-17. It now goes to the Senate for their consideration.