Amendment includes protections for receiving and providing critical care in the Commonwealth
(BOSTON – 05/25/2022) Today, the Massachusetts State Senate adopted Amendment #388, sponsored by Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), to S.4, the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget. The amendment seeks to block other states’ laws from attempting to interfere with legally protected health care activity in Massachusetts, as a growing number of states seek to limit access to reproductive or gender-affirming rights outside of their state’s borders. States like Texas and Oklahoma have already passed so-called “bounty laws” that enable a resident of their state to bring a civil suit against someone in another state who provides, aids, or abets a resident of Texas or Oklahoma in receiving an abortion in another state, even if care in that other state is entirely legal.
“We are now faced with a situation where another state, in state laws enacted by their Legislature, is threatening the rights of law-abiding residents in our commonwealth for engaging in activities legal under our laws enacted by our duly elected Legislature here in Massachusetts,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This is an egregious and direct attack on a state’s ability to make their own laws and protect their own residents.”
Under Friedman’s amendment, physicians, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, psychologists and social workers would be insulated from facing any licensing consequences in Massachusetts as a result of providing reproductive or gender-affirming care.
The Governor in many instances would be prevented from extraditing someone to a different state to face charges for an abortion or gender dysphoria treatment or another protected service, and Massachusetts law enforcement agencies would be prohibited 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.
Courts would similarly be barred from ordering anyone in Massachusetts to testify or produce documents for lawsuits involving those practices, and judges could not issue any summons in a case concerning those health care services unless the offense in question would also violate Massachusetts law.
The amendment would also allow anyone who faces abusive litigation in another state over legally protected reproductive and gender-affirming care services to sue in Massachusetts court to obtain a judgment, including actual damages, expenses, costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees.
The amendment also implements a statewide standing order that ensures emergency contraception can be dispensed at any pharmacy in the Commonwealth.
A full summary of the amendment can be found on Senator Friedman’s website.
Amendment #388 is now included in the text of S.4, the FY23 Senate budget bill, which is currently being debated. Organizations and advocacy groups who helped craft and support this amendment included: the Attorney General’s Office, Reproductive Equity Now, the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Medical Society, and GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders. The amendment was co-sponsored by 18 members of the Massachusetts Senate.
“Amendment #388 was thoughtfully-crafted and constitutionally-based approach to help protect legal health care activities in Massachusetts”, said Friedman. “What’s going on nationally is deeply disheartening and very scary, so I’m glad the Senate acted with urgency to protect this critical care in the Commonwealth.”