Senator Joan B. Lovely
State Senator
2nd Essex District


July 28, 2022

Massachusetts Legislature Passes Comprehensive Legislation Protecting Access to Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Care 

BOSTON– On Tuesday, the Massachusetts Legislature passed comprehensive legislation designed to further protect and expand reproductive health care and gender-affirming services in the Commonwealth. Although abortion remains legal in Massachusetts due to the Legislature’s efforts to codify and expand access to reproductive rights in 2020, the Legislature today took additional action to further protect these rights and establish additional safeguards following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The legislation, An Act expanding protections for reproductive and gender-affirming care, provides legal protections to abortion providers, out-of-state patients, and insurers; expands access to contraceptives; and helps ensure that women who face grave circumstances after 24 weeks of pregnancy are not forced to leave Massachusetts to access reproductive health care services. 

“There is nothing more important than allowing a pregnant person to make their own health care decisions, in consultation with their physician,” stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “I am proud of the decisive action the Senate took, first in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget and then earlier this month to protect our residents, our providers and the many pregnant or transgender people who may seek the care they deserve in our Commonwealth. I am grateful to the many Senators who have taken a stand, including Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues and Senator Cindy Friedman, my colleague Speaker Mariano and our partners in the House, and the many, many people who shared their stories about the importance of this legislation.” 

“I am honored to work with my legislative colleagues to enact robust legislation that upholds our Commonwealth’s commitment to protect women and transgender individual’s bodily autonomy and ability to access reproductive and gender-affirming healthcare,” said Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem). “With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, it is vital that we continue to support medical personnel and professionals who offer these vital services while also removing barriers so that anyone already disproportionally impacted by lack of access can receive the care they need. Thank you Senate President Spilka and Senator Cindy Friedman for your leadership, and to my Senate and House colleagues for your collaboration to push this bill forward.” 

“In the face of an increasing amount of anti-abortion and anti-gender-affirming care laws enacted across the country, Massachusetts continues to serve as a national leader in protecting these essential rights with the passage of this legislation,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing and the lead sponsor of the bill. “We must do everything we can to protect the rights of our providers, patients, and visitors to the Commonwealth. This bill takes important steps to ensure that pregnant people who face dire circumstances after 24 weeks of pregnancy are not forced to leave Massachusetts in order to access reproductive health care services, and places the decision-making power to end a late term pregnancy in the hands of the patient and their treating physician, not a hospital’s independent review panel. I thank my colleagues on the conference committee and in the House and the Senate for moving this bill forward so quickly.”  

An Act expanding protections for reproductive and gender-affirming care: 

  • Designates reproductive health care and gender-affirming services as legally protected health care  
  • Reaffirms that access to reproductive health care and gender-affirming services are a right secured by the constitution and 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 
  • Forbids MassHealth from charging deductibles, coinsurance, copayments, or other cost-sharing requirements for pre-natal, childbirth, and post-partum care 
  • Updates language from the 2020 ROE Act to help ensure that patients over 24 weeks of pregnancy are able to receive an abortion in Massachusetts because of a grave fetal diagnosis that indicates the fetus is incompatible with sustained life outside of the uterus without extraordinary medical interventions and requires that those decisions are made between the patient and their treating physician  
  • Requires the Department of Public Health (DPH) to issue a statewide standing order to authorize licensed pharmacists to dispense emergency contraception 
  • Clarifies that vending machines may dispense over-the-counter drugs, such as Plan B 
  • Ensures access to medication abortion on all public college and university campuses  
  • Allows individuals engaged in the provision, facilitation, or promotion of reproductive and gender-affirming health care to enroll in the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) 
  • 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 assisting any investigation by federal authorities, another state, or private citizens related to legally protected reproductive and gender-affirming health care provided in the Commonwealth 
  • 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 
  • Preventing the Governor from extraditing someone to another state to face charges for receiving or providing abortion-related or gender-affirming care, except when required by federal law or unless the acts forming the basis of the investigation would also constitute an offense if occurring entirely in Massachusetts 

“This is a tremendous victory for women seeking reproductive health care and medical professionals providing these necessary services in Massachusetts,” said Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem (D-Newton). “At a time when many states are criminalizing abortion and curtailing the rights of transgender individuals, I’m proud that the Legislature took decisive action to protect access to reproductive and gender-affirming care here in the Commonwealth.”  

“In the wake of the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, it is imperative that we protect the laws enacted by our state against unwarranted attacks from those outside the Commonwealth,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester).  

Having been passed by the House and Senate, An Act expanding protections for reproductive and gender-affirming care now goes to Governor Baker for his signature.