Massachusetts Codifies Abortion and Transgender “Health Care”

The Massachusetts state house passed legislation last week that makes abortion and transgender “gender-affirming” procedures protected rights under the state constitution. It was unclear whether Gov. Charlie Baker (R-MA) would approve of the more extreme parts of the bill, but he signed it into law on Friday. 

The Massachusetts House approved the bill with a 137-16 vote and the Senate demonstrated its approval after a 39-1 vote. The bill, which comes in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade overturn, explicitly protects the constitutionality of abortion and sex reassignment procedures:

Access to reproductive health care services and gender-affirming health care services is a right secured by the constitution and laws of the commonwealth. Interference with this right, whether or not under the color of law, is against the public policy of the commonwealth.

Constitutional protection for “reproductive health care” has many consequences. The bill defines “reproductive health care” as:

all supplies, care and services of a medical, behavioral health, mental health, surgical, psychiatric, therapeutic, diagnostic, preventative, rehabilitative or supportive nature relating to pregnancy, contraception, assisted reproduction, miscarriage management or the termination of a pregnancy.

This means the state’s taxpayer funded Medicaid program is required to cover abortions. Even further, public college and university campuses are required under the bill to create “medication abortion readiness” plans and make them available at its student health centers. These readiness plans would provide information, referrals, and even access to medication abortions. The bill requires the department of public health to fund these readiness plans. Townhall reported how University of Massachusetts Amherst plans to offer medication abortions on campus in the foreseeable future.

Previously, abortion had been legal in the state up to 24 weeks with a few exceptions that allowed them even later. The new bill makes abortion legal at virtually any time during pregnancy:

If a pregnancy has existed for 24 weeks or more, no abortion may be performed except by a physician, and only if in the best medical judgement of the physician it is: (i) necessary to preserve the life of the patient; (ii) necessary to preserve the patient’s physical or mental health; (iii) warranted because of a lethal fetal anomaly or diagnosis; or (iv) warranted because of a grave fetal diagnosis that indicates that the fetus is incompatible with sustained life outside of the uterus without extraordinary medical interventions.

Gov. Barker has said in the past he wants to protect abortion “rights” in the state, but he also vetoed a piece of legislation in 2020 that sought to establish the current legal exceptions to the 24-week ban. The senate overruled his veto and got the exceptions into the state’s law, but the governor’s hesitancy to allow abortions past 24 weeks made his approval of the new bill uncertain. He folded to the Massachusetts Left, though, and signed it into law.

Now that it has passed Barker’s desk, the bill will also codify protections for people traveling to the state to receive or perform abortions even though, as Townhall reported, no states with abortion bans allows women who receive abortions to be prosecuted.

The bill defines “gender-affirming health care” as:

all supplies, care and services of a medical, behavioral health, mental health, surgical, psychiatric, therapeutic, diagnostic, preventative, rehabilitative or supportive nature relating to the treatment of gender dysphoria.

Like abortion, anything that falls under the above definition is constitutionally protected under the new bill. It is also able to be covered by MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program:

MassHealth covers a number of medically necessary gender-affirming treatments for members with gender dysphoria, including gender-affirming surgery (GAS) and hair removal. GAS includes, but is not limited to, gender-affirming chest, genital, and facial surgery.

This enshrinement of “gender-affirming health care” in the state’s constitution means taxpayer dollars will continue to fund transgender surgeries as well as abortions indefinitely, especially now Gov. Barker approved the legislation.


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