BOSTON– The ROE Act Coalition issued the following statement in response to the Governor’s veto of the state legislature’s abortion access provisions:

“Governor Baker’s veto of this legislation demonstrates a callous and dangerous disregard for the health and well being of the people of the Commonwealth. With this veto, the Governor has made plain that he has no problem imposing medically unnecessary barriers that delay and deny care, and forcing families to fly across the country to get compassionate care. Our abortion laws are broken, and with two recent actions against equitable abortion access, Governor Baker is upholding our broken system.

“These provisions are supported by large majorities in both chambers, and we respectfully call on the legislature to override the Governor’s veto. Unlike Governor Baker, legislators understand that merely affirming the abstract right to safe, legal abortion is not enough; we must protect and improve abortion access so every person can get the care they need. It is up to the legislature to once again lead where Governor Baker has failed. 

“Over the last two years, Massachusetts voters, activists, physicians, and parents have made clear their support for the ROE Act—and these subsequent provisions— by showing up at the State House and in their communities to advocate for reproductive freedom; by expanding the pro-choice majorities in the House and Senate; and by sending tens of thousands of calls and emails to Governor Baker urging him to sign these provisions into law. Governor Baker has dismissed his constituents and, instead, is blocking people’s access to care to score political points with anti-abortion extremists. We are tremendously grateful to House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Karen Spilka, and their colleagues in the legislature for listening to the people of the Commonwealth and unapologetically leading on equitable abortion access.”

Background:

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:

  • The legislature’s proposal 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 legislature’s proposal 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 legislature’s proposal codifies reproductive rights into state law.

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CONTACT

Johanna Kaiser, Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts

jkaiser@pplm.org

Jon Latino, NARAL MA

jon@prochoicemass.org

Kate Lagreca, ACLU of Massachusetts

klagreca@aclum.org 

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