REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE (H 4930)

By Bob Katzen

The House 136-17, approved and sent to the Senate legislation designed to further protect reproductive health care and those who perform abortions in the Bay State. The measure specifically declares that both reproductive health care and gender-affirming care is a “right secured by the constitution or laws” of Massachusetts and would shield providers of reproductive and gender-affirming care and their patients from out-of-state legal action.

Key provisions include 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 or private citizens; 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; prohibiting medical malpractice insurers from discriminating against a provider that offers reproductive or gender-affirming health care services; and requiring insurance coverage for abortion and abortion-related care without being subject to deductibles, coinsurance, copayments or other cost-sharing requirements.

“The progress we’ve made to protect abortion rights in Massachusetts distinguishes us at a time when millions of people across the country are losing their access to care,” said Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, President of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. “Now we must urgently expand access by making abortion care more affordable and supporting providers so they can safely provide care,”

Rep. Ruth Balser (D-Newton), a 73-year old House member, said she is “a woman who is old enough to remember the days before Roe v. Wade,” and described “the pain that in particular my generation of women are feeling, that that hard-fought and won right has been ripped from us.”

Rep. Colleen Garry (D-Dracut) was the only representative to speak against the measure during debate on the House floor. “I voted against [it] because it went way beyond making abortions available and safe for women from other states and protecting our abortion providers,” said Garry. “The bill makes abortions free in Massachusetts eliminating any co-pays or cost sharing and allowing women from other states to qualify for MassHealth coverage for abortions. Nothing is free in this world. The health insurance ratepayers in Massachusetts will be paying for all of these abortions through their own insurance premiums. It also expanded availability for late term abortions to include not only the ‘fatal fetal anomaly’ provision from the Roe Act but went further to include access when the mother and her doctor decide that there is a ‘severe’ fetal anomaly, which is not defined in the legislation.”

“The Supreme Court’s decision to completely overturn Roe v. Wade represents a fundamental attack on women’s rights,” said House Speaker Ron Mariano (D-Quincy). “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.”

“Inflicting pain and death on another living, developing individual is not a right protected by the Constitution, no matter how warped the Democrats’ logic may be,” said Massachusetts Republican Party Chairman Jim Lyons.

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill. A “No” vote is against it).

Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Erika Uyterhoeven Yes

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