BOSTON–The ROE Act Coalition issued the following statement applauding the Massachusetts House of Representatives for rejecting Governor Baker’s amendments to Section 40 of the FY 2021 state budget with a veto-proof majority:
“Once again, House members have affirmed their commitment to reproductive freedom by fighting to ensure all Bay Staters can access abortion care when and where they need it. Governor Baker’s proposed amendments would have completely undermined lawmakers’ efforts to protect and expand abortion access by pushing life-saving abortion care later in pregnancy out of reach and by fully maintaining our state’s racist and discriminatory, anti-choice barriers for vulnerable young people.
“We’re grateful to House Speaker Robert DeLeo for his leadership safeguarding reproductive freedom in the face of anti-choice attacks. The people of Massachusetts stand with the overwhelming number of lawmakers who are committed to removing medically unnecessary and politically motivated barriers to care.
“Our fight is not over, but we are confident that Senate leaders will also move to reject the Governor’s amendment and return the pro-choice provision to his desk.”
The ROE Act Coalition is a statewide coalition committed to passing the ROE Act to protect and expand access to abortion in Massachusetts. Founding organizations include the ACLU of Massachusetts, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, and Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts.
While the legislature’s proposal doesn’t have everything the ROE Act Coalition championed, it contains essential provisions that will improve access to reproductive health care for pregnant people across the state:
- This amendment maintains the requirement that a young person under the age of 16 must have permission from their parents or a judge to seek abortion care. However, it streamlines access for those under 16 years old by allowing remote hearings, minimizing harmful delays to care.
- Compared to other New England states, Massachusetts currently has some of the most restrictive laws denying young people abortion access. These laws compel many young people to leave the state for care.
- Allowing young people 16 and older to consent to abortion care is consistent with Massachusetts law that allows young people 16 and older to consent to sex.
- Massachusetts law recognizes young people are capable of making their own medical decisions. Young people can already consent to reproductive health care (like birth control) and all pregnancy-related care (like C-sections). Abortion is the only exception. This amendment ensures the state is no longer intervening in private medical decisions.
- The amendment would enable families to obtain care later in pregnancy in cases of lethal fetal diagnosis — without having to travel across the country.
- Under current law, families must travel out of state–often as far as Colorado or New Mexico–to access abortion. They must pay for this care out-of-pocket, rent hotel rooms and often do it without spouses or family there to support them.
- Even states hostile to reproductive rights — such as Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Mississippi — allow abortion care in cases of lethal fetal diagnosis.
- The amendment codifies reproductive rights into state law.
Johanna Kaiser, Planned Parenthood
Jon Latino, NARAL MA
Kate Lagreca, ACLU of Massachusetts