Burlington’s representative in the Massachusetts House of Representatives is pushing to protect reproductive rights here in the Commonwealth in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the landmarked 1974 Roe v. Wade decision to federally legalize abortion.
According to a release from his office, Representative Ken Gordon (D-Bedford) joined his colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass H.4930, An Act expanding protections for reproductive rights, which aims 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 through the Roe Act, the Massachusetts House took additional efforts to 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.
“I was disheartened by the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, but I am incredibly proud to have joined my House colleagues to reaffirm our commitment to the reproductive rights of all women in Commonwealth.”, said Representative Gordon. “With this bill, we show the rest of the nation that Massachusetts will continue to protect our patients and providers from interference with this critical care”.
Highlights from the bill include:
- 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;
- Protects 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 can receive in-state care.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.