Advocates in the state of Massachusetts are currently working to get budget amendments based on the ROE Act passed, otherwise known as “An Act to Remove Obstacles and Expand Abortion Access” (S.1209). This bill aims to cement abortion rights in Massachusetts state law, in a time where reproductive rights are under question and attack. At this point, both the House and the Senate passed budget amendments, which included many, but not all, components of the ROE Act.
Last Monday, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka said in a joint statement last Monday night: “We are very concerned that Massachusetts’ women’s reproductive rights are under threat at the national level. We are therefore committed to debate measures in the House and Senate this session that would remove barriers to women’s reproductive health options and protect the concepts enshrined in Roe v. Wade”. Other states, including New Jersey, are making similar legislative moves to protect reproductive rights, due to a fear of Roe v. Wade being rolled back now that Justice Amy Coney Barrett has joined the Supreme Court and created a solid conservative, anti-abortion majority within the Court.
According to NARAL Massachusetts, the ROE Act “would reform our state’s abortion laws, ensuring that anyone, regardless of age, income, or insurance, can access safe, legal abortion”. This includes codifying the right to abortion in state law, ending the judicial bypass system, allowing abortions after 24 weeks in cases of lethal fetal diagnoses, updating inaccurate abortion definitions, removing the 24-hour waiting period, and creating safety net coverage for those without health insurance.
The Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts echoed this sentiment, and states that “The ROE Act protects young people…No young person should have to navigate the court system to seek basic reproductive health care…The ROE Act builds protections for young people by ensuring they can seek support from health care providers without unnecessary delays.”
Moreover, Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of MA, along with NARAL MA and ACLU of Massachusetts, known collectively as the ROE Act Coalition, said in a statement last month — “Massachusetts lawmakers have the responsibility to make sure our state is a place where everyone is able to receive the abortion care they need — without judgment, medically unnecessary barriers, or political interference. The legislature cannot wait any longer to pass the ROE Act”.
Sources: MA Legislature, Boston Herald 11/2/20, Feminist Newswire 10/6/20, Feminist Newswire 10/27/20, NARAL Massachusetts, Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts