BOSTON — The House on Wednesday approved a proposal for shielding abortion seekers and providers from criminal charges, as Massachusetts braces for an influx of women from other states that restrict the procedure in the wake of last week’s Supreme Court ruling overturning the Roe V. Wade decision.
The Democratic-backed proposalwhich passed by a vote of 136 to 17 mostly along party lines, declares that abortion is a “right secured by the constitution or laws” and would shield providers of reproductive and “gender-affirming” care and their patients from potential out-of -state legal action.
The measure also would require abortions to be covered by the state’s Medicaid program MassHealth and private insurance with no co-pays or deductibles and authorizes pharmacies to dispense FDA-approved emergency contraception.
Democrats who proposed the changes said that while abortion is protected in Massachusetts, the high court’s ruling means women from other states will be coming here to have the procedure done — and will need resources and legal protections.
They said abortion providers also need to be protected from prosecution in states where citizens can file lawsuits against those performing the procedure.
“Today, we tell other states who would deny women full equality to stay out of Massachusetts,” Rep. Michael Day, D-Stoneham, said in remarks ahead of the bill’s approval. “While your women, seeking to exercise their fundamental rights and make their own healthcare decisions, will be welcome here — you will not.”
Rep. Ann Margaret Ferrante, D-Gloucester, said women‘s reproductive rights are under attack following the Supreme Court’s decision. She said the proposal would make Massachusetts a “beacon of light” by strengthening abortion protections.
“Even if other states in this country choose not to, we will remain a beacon for the rights and the humanity of women,” Ferrante said in remarks.