Boston, MA

Today, the Massachusetts State Senate passed An Act negating archaic statutes targeting young women. The bill passed 38-0.

In response to the Senate’s vote, Rebecca Hart Holder, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, released the following statement:

“In a time when reproductive freedom is under attack at the federal level, Massachusetts must do all we can to ensure access to contraception, and to safe, legal abortion. These statutes, long-since overturned in state and federal courts and currently unenforceable, have no business remaining in our General Laws. With this vote, the State Senate reinforces what we already know – any threat to contraception and abortion access is not a Massachusetts value. We urge the House of Representatives to take up this legislation as soon as possible to ensure that, even if Roe v. Wade were overturned tomorrow, the reproductive freedom of the people of Massachusetts would be unequivocally protected.”

The laws this bill would eliminate include:

  • A ban on unmarried people accessing contraception.
    • In Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438 (1972) the Supreme Court ruled that the constitutional right to privacy extends to the reproductive decisions of unmarried people.
  • A ban on distributing information about how to access contraception or abortion care
  • A law which would punish pharmacists, doctors, and other healthcare providers for distributing contraception or performing an abortion.
    • Massachusetts recently passed the ACCESS bill, which guarantees copay free contraception. Therefore, it is absurd that a portion of the Massachusetts General Laws criminalized the distribution of contraception.
  • Creates a five year mandatory minimum sentence for “Procuring a miscarriage”, a law that was aimed at criminalizing clinicians who provide abortion care.
    • The decision in Moe v. Sec. of Admin. and Finance, 382 Mass. 629 (1981) has language indicating that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial court would find that the Massachusetts Constitution protects the right to choose. However, Moe did not explicitly find that the right to choose is protected under our constitution.
  • A requirement that all abortions provided beyond the twelfth week of pregnancy be performed in a hospital
    • The Massachusetts Appeals Court has refused to enforce this law in light of U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, 62 U.S. 416 (1983) which found similar mandates unconstitutional.

Through an amendment filed by Senator Cynthia Creem, this bill would also eliminate a statutory ban on adultery and “fornication.”

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