Mass., Minn. governors sign orders protecting providers who perform abortions for out-of-state residents

AP Photo/Elise Amendola
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker speaks during a Juneteenth commemoration in Boston’s Nubian Square, June 18, 2021. 

The governors of Massachusetts and Minnesota have signed executive orders to implement legal protections for reproductive health care providers who serve out-of-state residents, and for those who come to their states seeking such care. 

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) said in a release on Friday that he was “deeply disappointed” in the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which made abortion a federally-protected right.

He said he signed the order in response to the court’s decision and the subsequent and expected actions of numerous states to ban or severely restrict access to abortion. 

“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.

More than a dozen states have trigger laws on the books that would criminalize abortion either immediately upon Roe v. Wade being overturned or shortly after. Since the court’s ruling on Friday morning, about half of those states’ bans have already gone into effect

State governments placing bans or severe restrictions on abortion could lead to a greater number of residents of those states seeking to travel to other states where the procedure is legal.

The release states that the order also prohibits any executive agency from aiding another state’s investigation into anyone receiving or providing reproductive health services that are legal in Massachusetts. 

Abortion is legal in the commonwealth up until the 24th week of pregnancy, and physicians may perform an abortion after that if the life of the mother is at risk or if the fetus is not expected to survive outside the womb. 

Brown’s order also protects Massachusetts health care providers from being in jeopardy of losing their licenses based on out-of-state charges. The commonwealth will also not cooperate with any extradition requests from other states pursuing criminal charges against anyone who received or performed reproductive services in Massachusetts. 

“We are proud of the Commonwealth’s history of ensuring access to reproductive health care, and will continue to do so,” Massachusetts Lt. Governor Karyn Polito (R) said in the release.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed a similar order on Saturday providing protection for people seeking, obtaining, assisting and providing abortions in his state from legal repercussions in other states.

The order directs all Minnesota state agencies to work “to the fullest extent of their lawful authority” to provide those protections and not to assist in efforts to penalize people over reproductive health services that are legal in the state. It also says the governor will “to the maximum extent permitted” decline extradition requests in such cases.

“My office has been and will continue to be a firewall against legislation that would reverse reproductive freedom,” Walz said in a statement. “This order shows our administration’s commitment to protecting patients and health care providers. Our administration is doing everything we can to protect individuals’ right to make their own health care decisions.”

“Your reproductive freedom will remain protected in Minnesota as long as I am in office,” he added in a Twitter post.

Updated at 10:31 p.m.

Tags abortion ban abortion rights Charlie Baker Charlie Baker Karyn Polito massachusetts reproductive health services Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Tim Walz
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