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Senate passes budget tabs to protect abortion providers – Boston News, Weather, Sports

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MAY 26, 2022….. Providers of reproductive and gender-affirming health services in Massachusetts would gain new protections from legal action in other states, as would out-of-state residents traveling here for services such as abortion , under a budget amendment the Senate approved Wednesday.

Senate Democrats portrayed the measure as a bulwark against Republican-led efforts in other states to restrict access to abortion and limit treatment options for transgender or non-binary patients, warning that the US Supreme Court is ready to seems to be, Roe v. to overthrow Wade while other states take steps to expand enforcement beyond their own borders.

Senator Cindy Friedman of Arlington said lawmakers in Texas and Oklahoma had enacted “bounty-style regulations” authorizing their residents to take private legal action against other Texans or Oklahomans who travel to Massachusetts for reproductive and gender-affirming care, as well as those in Massachusetts workers providing these services.

“We are now confronted with a situation where another state, through state legislation enacted by its legislature, is threatening the rights of law-abiding residents of our Commonwealth for engaging in activities that are legal under our laws, those of our duly elected legislature here were enacted in Massachusetts. ‘ Friedman said in the Senate. “This is a egregious and direct attack on a state’s ability to make its own laws and protect its own citizens.”

The action comes amid an increasingly fierce battle over access to abortion and other reproductive health services and over how states support their LGBTQ residents. According to Friedman, 26 other states have statutes or pending bills “to significantly limit access to reproductive care,” and another 15 states have statutes or pending bills restricting gender-affirming care.

During the fiscal 2023 state budget debate, the Senate passed a Friedman amendment that it said would create a set of new safeguards for both patients and providers. The Senate passed the amendment in an unrecorded ballot, and no senators opposed the proposal.

Physicians, physician assistants, pharmacists, nurses, psychologists and social workers would be protected from licensing consequences by providing reproductive medicine — which includes not just abortion but also contraception, miscarriage management and other pregnancy-related services — or many supportive services such as treatments for gender dysphoria, according to an amendment summary Provided by the Office of Senate President Karen Spilka.

Massachusetts law enforcement would be prohibited from assisting any federal, state, or private investigation related to proprietary reproductive and gender-affirming health care in the Bay State, and the governor would not be able to extradite a person to a different state in many cases to be charged with a abortion or other protected service.

Likewise, courts would be prohibited from ordering anyone in Massachusetts to testify or produce documents for claims related to these practices, and judges could not issue a subpoena in a case involving these health care services unless the offense in question would also be against violate Bay State law.

“The properly elected Massachusetts legislature has consistently affirmed that the fundamental rights of the people of the Commonwealth are upheld and protected here in our state, regardless of what happens at the federal level or in any other state,” Spilka said in a statement released after the vote .

Like Friedman, Spilka warned of a possible scenario in which a Massachusetts resident could face prosecution originating from another state “for exercising rights that are legal in our Commonwealth.”

“We can’t and don’t want to leave it like that,” she said.

The change also requires the Department of Health to establish a statewide permanent regulation authorizing pharmacists to dispense emergency contraceptives, a move that advocates say will increase insurance coverage and make it a more accessible option.

State law already guarantees access to abortion, but after a May 2 Politico report that published a leaked draft of a US Supreme Court decision ruling the Roe v. Wade enshrined federal abortion laws are Massachusetts legislative leaders obliged to consider further measures.

Rather than presenting a standalone bill, Spilka opted to use the annual state budget to pursue expanded liability protection for reproductive health and gender-affirming care providers. While the House’s position on the measures is unknown – the issues will be part of a larger hearing in the conference committee – the strategy is an attempt to tie the measure to a bill that will hit the governor’s desk in the coming weeks.

Friedman told the news service Wednesday the measure was included in the budget “because of the urgency of what happened.”

“Oklahoma just passed legislation, Texas passed it, the Supreme Court ruling on female reproductive access leaked out, and it’s all happening,” Friedman said. “So we felt like this is absolutely the vehicle in front of us to take proactive action to protect our residents and our providers.”

The House of Representatives approved its version of the fiscal year 23 budget on April before the draft court decision was leaked and without the language of reproductive health or gender-affirming care. Representatives would have to agree to the Senate’s approach to submitting the measure to Baker.

Legislatures usually conduct negotiations on a final draft budget in conference committees, and in recent years this deliberation has stretched well into the summer, with a final budget sometimes not being produced until after the start of the fiscal year.

Friedman said she didn’t know if there was support in the House for the exact measure the Senate passed, but described “very, very strong support” for the 2020 law codifying abortion rights in Massachusetts, which passed the Legislature issued against Baker’s veto.

“Because this is so much a question of our state’s right to enforce our own laws and reflect our state’s values ​​in our bylaws, I think that’s going to rally people, and I think that’s going to apply to the House as well.” ” She said.

baker said this month He is “absolutely open to discussions about safeguards” for reproductive health providers and describes himself after the leak of the draft Roe ruling as “very concerned about what this means, not so much for the people of Massachusetts, but for the people.” in other states.”

The Beyond Roe Coalition, a constellation of pro-abortion access groups including the ACLU of Massachusetts, the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts and Reproductive Equity Now, commended the Senate for its vote.

“With the Supreme Court poised to overthrow Roe and other state lawmakers introducing abortion bans, it is more important than ever that our state leaders ensure meaningful access to abortion, contraception and gender-affirming care for all who need it,” ACLU of Massachusetts Executive Director Carol Rose said in a statement. “Everyone — no matter where they live or how much money they have — should have the freedom to make health decisions for themselves and their families.”

(Copyright (c) 2022 State House News Service.

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https://whdh.com/news/senate-passes-budget-rider-to-protect-abortion-providers/ Senate passes budget tabs to protect abortion providers – Boston News, Weather, Sports

Nate Jones

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