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Massachusetts compromise bill expanding abortion rights sent to governor’s desk

A Massachusetts compromise bill expanding reproductive rights and medical treatment for gender dysphoria has been sent to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk after it was approved Tuesday by lawmakers. 

Bill H. 5090, titled “An Act expanding protections for reproductive and gender-affirming care,” was passed with a 137-16 vote in the House and then approved in a 39-1 Senate vote. The compromise bill includes text from Senate Bill S.3003, in which abortion rights and medical treatment for gender dysphoria are expanded, as well as a new emergency preamble, saying: 

“It is hereby declared to be an emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public convenience.”

The bill further extends legal protections to “abortion providers, out-of-state patients, and insurers” as well as access to contraceptives and resources to women in “grave circumstances” past their 24-week mark, according to a press statement released by Senate President Karen Spilka, D-Mass. 

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The bill encapsulates “gender-affirming services” and “reproductive health care services” as “legally protected health care,” stating that such services are rights secured by the state constitution. 

“Gender-affirming services” include “all supplies, care and services” related in some nature to the treatment of gender dysphoria, as defined by the bill text. 

Likewise, the bill defines “all supplies, care and services” related in some nature “to pregnancy, contraception, assisted reproduction, miscarriage management or the termination of a pregnancy” as “reproductive health care services.”

The bill requires public educational institutions to have “a medication abortion readiness plan” in place for its students, including providing medical abortions to students in health centers and providing referrals as well as information on how to obtain an abortion.  

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Pharmacists will also receive an order from the Department of Public Health, granting them the authorization to dispense emergency contraceptives. Likewise, vending machines can dispense over-the-counter drugs, including Plan B. 

Abortion is currently legal in Massachusetts, with the procedure previously codified in 2020. Baker signed an emergency order in June to protect access to reproductive services shortly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. 

New Bedford, Mass. - September 22: At the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, Governor Charlie Baker visited an offshore wind workforce training site outdoors in New Bedford, MA to highlight the Commonwealths progress in advancing clean energy and to celebrate Climate Week on September 22, 2021. 

“In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, it is especially important to ensure that Massachusetts providers can continue to provide reproductive health care services without concern that the laws of other states may be used to interfere with those services or sanction them for providing services that are lawful in the Commonwealth,” Baker said in the statement. 

The bill has now been moved to Baker’s desk, with Baker signaling Tuesday at an unrelated bill-signing ceremony that he had yet to read the bill through in its entirety, according to GBH.

“I have only read about half of it. But I’m hoping that we’ll be able to have a ceremony for that one, too,” Baker said in GBH. 

Fox News reached out to Baker and Spilka’s offices but did not immediately hear back. 

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