Home People Expanded abortion, gender care provider protections head to Charlie Baker’s desk

Expanded abortion, gender care provider protections head to Charlie Baker’s desk

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The Legislature on Tuesday passed a compromise version of a reproductive and gender-affirming care protections bill which faces a potential veto by the state’s arguably pro-choice but still Republican governor.

“I’m hoping that’s something we’ll be able to support,” Baker told reporters in his office Tuesday. “I don’t like to get ahead of the Legislature.”

The bill cleared the House 137-16 and the Senate 39-1 and will protect providers of abortion and gender-affirming care from out-of-state laws prohibiting their medical practice and protect patients who come to the state to seek care.

The bill would also prevent law enforcement agencies from complying with out of state requests for extradition or with investigations related to gender-affirming or reproductive care.

Fear of a Baker veto should have moved lawmakers to haste, but last week House Speaker Ron Mariano and other legislative leaders admitted they had run out of time to be able to easily deal with the governor withholding his signature on any bill.

Baker is pro-choice — he has said so himself many times — but he also had reservations when the state’s Roe Act was passed in 2020 because of language regarding abortion after 24 weeks.

That sort of language made it into the compromised version of the bill the House passed Tuesday.

According to the bill, abortions after 24 weeks are permitted to preserve a patient’s life or a patient’s physical or mental health, due to a lethal fetal anomaly, or “a grave fetal diagnosis that indicates the fetus is incompatible with sustained life outside of the uterus without extraordinary medical interventions.”

The move to expand protections for care providers and patients comes following the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision to overturn the constitutional protection of abortion granted by the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.

“In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to ignore nearly 50 years of judicial precedent and overturn Roe v. Wade, and as states across the country continue to restrict access to abortion, Massachusetts will continue to serve as a national leader and protect reproductive rights,” House Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate Pres. Karen Spilka said in a joint release Monday.

Healthcare advocates hailed action by lawmakers Tuesday.

“The overturning of Roe v. Wade was a direct attack on a person’s fundamental right to make decisions concerning their own body. In response, the passage of the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Rights Bill by the Legislature is a bold step to guarantee that residents in Massachusetts will continue to have access to all the health care services they need, including reproductive care, abortion, and gender-affirming health care services,” Amy Rosenthal, executive director at Health Care For All, said following the vote.

Baker is supposed to get 10 days to consider any bill.

The legislature will stop holding formal session after this week, though they will likely work late both weekend days to finish up what remains.

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