For Immediate Release: Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Massachusetts—Today, the Massachusetts state legislature overrode Republican Governor Charlie Baker’s veto in order to enact legislation that removes critical barriers to accessing abortion care in Massachusetts. This legislation includes key provisions of the ROE Act, a bill that NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, the ACLU of Massachusetts, and Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts have advocated for since 2019.
Earlier this month, the legislature rejected Governor Baker’s proposed amendments to this legislation and returned it to his desk as written and passed by the legislature. Baker’s amendments would have maintained the Commonwealth’s medically unnecessary barriers to care. Governor Baker subsequently vetoed the original language on Christmas Eve, sparking outrage and criticism from voters and advocates, and today, the legislature overrode the veto to make this critical legislation law.
The legislation removes several medically unnecessary barriers to care that existed in Massachusetts law. Specifically, it removes the ban on abortion care later in pregnancy in the case of a lethal fetal diagnosis, ensuring Bay State families can get the compassionate care they need in their home state without having to fly across the country. The section also partially repeals the state’s parental consent and judicial bypass law by allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to make their own decisions about abortion care, making Massachusetts the first state in the country to legislatively roll back a mandated parental involvement law accomplish this. It streamlines the judicial bypass process for young people under 16 by allowing remote hearings, removing the onerous and traumatic burden of having to appear in court before a judge. This new process mirrors existing practices set up during the COVID-19 pandemic and minimizes harmful delays to care. The section also affirmatively codifies the right to abortion into Massachusetts state law.
In response to the legislation’s passage, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts Executive Director Rebecca Hart Holder said:
“This is a proud day for Bay Staters and supporters of reproductive freedom across the country. Today we repealed laws that have been on the books since 1974. Laws designed to prevent women and pregnant people from accessing abortion care when they need it. For far too long, our outdated abortion laws in Massachusetts did not reflect our values or voters’ widespread support for reproductive freedom. That changes today. By removing these medically unnecessary barriers to care, we have taken a major step toward ensuring that all Bay Staters can get the safe, legal abortion care when and where they need it.”
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue released the following statement:
“The passage of the Massachusetts budget with this key section on reproductive freedom is a huge win. Women and families need understanding, information, and support—not barriers to accessing care. NARAL Pro-Choice America was proud to stand with NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, the ROE Act Coalition, and our more than 72,000 members across the Commonwealth in fighting to ensure that every body has the freedom to control their own lives, destinies, and futures.”
A recent poll from Change Research finds that more than 3 in 4 Massachusetts voters believe the state should protect the right to abortion care through state legislation and support the core provisions of the ROE Act—including many provisions included in the FY 2021 budget. More than 4 in 5 voters in Massachusetts do not believe that vulnerable teens seeking abortion care need a courtroom judge, including 77% of Independents and 57% of Republicans. Further, nearly 3 in 5 voters supported repealing the parental consent law.
This is a crucial win for reproductive freedom at a time when anti-choice state lawmakers across the country remain determined to criminalize abortion—putting the advancement of their unpopular ideology above the health and well-being of the American people, even during a still-raging pandemic. Thanks to these efforts from anti-choice, anti-freedom legislators—as well as Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s efforts to stack the federal judiciary with judges hostile to Roe v. Wade—reproductive freedom remains in jeopardy.
NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts advocated for this amendment as part of the ROE Act Coalition—a statewide reproductive rights coalition of more than 70 grassroots, community, advocacy, and labor organizations.
For over 50 years, NARAL Pro-Choice America and its network of state affiliates and chapters have fought to protect and advance reproductive freedom—including access to abortion, contraception, and paid family leave—for every body. NARAL is powered by its more than 2.5 million members from every state and congressional district in the country, representing the 7 in 10 Americans who believe every person should have the freedom to make the best decision for themselves about if, when, and how to raise a family.