Abortion Law Signed Protecting Female Rights Despite SCOTUS


Although an array of states saw their leaders take the opportunity of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade to pursue increased restrictions on abortion, officials in Massachusetts are taking the opposite approach.

On Friday, Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed a new measure into law that protects reproductive healthcare services in the state, expanding on an executive order he signed with the same ambition shortly after the Supreme Court’s final decision on Roe initially came out. The newly enacted law contains provisions that were part of that earlier executive order and entirely new measures to protect access to critical healthcare services. Notably, gender-affirming healthcare services — an area, thanks to its relevance to transgender individuals, also subject to Republican attacks — were also protected by the measure Baker signed into law last week.

“The new law protects patients and providers from legal interference when they are engaged in accessing or providing reproductive and gender affirming health care services that are legally protected in Massachusetts,” a press release from Baker’s office summarizes. Measures from Baker’s earlier executive order that are now part of Massachusetts state law include clear prohibitions on officials in the state essentially going along with potential out-of-state proceedings targeting reproductive healthcare services obtained from Massachusetts providers. Since Roe was undone, some have worried — with tangible evidence supporting their concerns — that figures in states with abortion restrictions could try and target situations in which someone from their states receives reproductive healthcare services someplace else. Expanded access to contraception was another feature of the measure the Massachusetts governor signed.

Recently, the U.S. House also passed a bill to protect access to contraception amid fears of what the Supreme Court may go after next. In a concurring opinion filed in the case in which the court overturned Roe, Justice Clarence Thomas said the court should revisit certain, key cases including one in which the court provided protections for contraception. Other cases Thomas referenced included ones whose outcomes protected same-sex relationships and same-sex marriages. The House also recently approved a measure to protect same-sex marriages, which — if made law — would mean those benefiting from these foundational protections wouldn’t be reliant on a Supreme Court ruling the Justices might theoretically overturn.

When the House dealt with the contraception bill, 228 members voted for it, and 195 — all of whom were Republicans — went against it. Eight Republicans voted for the measure, including Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio), John Katko (N.Y.), Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), Nancy Mace (S.C.), Maria Elvira Salazar (Fla.), and Fred Upton (Mich.). Two GOP’ers voted “present,” and six didn’t vote. Almost four dozen Republicans voted for the bill protecting same-sex marriages. The Senate has seemingly yet to vote on either measure, and with that chamber’s filibuster rules essentially intact, whether the bills’ supporters can reach the required 60-vote threshold to overcome Republican opposition remains to be seen. Meanwhile, other states also quickly began pursuing new protections for abortion after Roe was overturned. State constitutional amendments to protect abortion access are moving through the processes required for enactment in states including California and New York.