NATIONAL: Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965). The United States Supreme Court strikes down a Connecticut state law prohibiting giving married couples information, instructions, and medical advice on contraception on the basis of violating the marital right to privacy.
NATIONAL: Over the next five years, Colorado, Alaska, Hawaii, New York, and Washington state repeal abortion restrictions.
NATIONAL: National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL) is founded in Chicago.
MASSACHUSETTS: Prior to the decision in Roe v. Wade, activists in Massachusetts launch Pregnancy Counseling Service (PCS), a non-profit organization offering counseling and adoption services as well as information and referral for abortion care. From 1969 to 1972, PCS serves over 40,000 women. In 1974, PCS becomes Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.
NATIONAL: The Jane Collective (commonly known as Jane) is created. It is a group in Chicago that organized to initially refer pregnant people and later provide abortions before Roe v. Wade made abortion legal throughout the United States.
MASSACHUSETTS: A group of activists comes together to create the Massachusetts Organization for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (MORAL). MORAL aims to liberalize reproductive health care laws, specifically abortion laws, in Massachusetts through public education and organizing. MORAL members protest in front of the State House and testify at a hearing about the safety of abortion. Once abortion becomes legal in Massachusetts, MORAL focuses its work on defeating restrictive anti-abortion laws and protecting abortion providers.
NATIONAL: Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438 (1972). The United States Supreme Court finds a Massachusetts law prohibiting the distribution of contraceptives to unmarried people for the purpose of preventing pregnancy unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The case arises after Bill Baird, a Boston University lecturer, is arrested for distributing contraceptive foam to students.
MASSACHUSETTS: MORAL is incorporated as a non-profit, political organization whose purpose is to develop and sustain a constituency which utilizes the political process to protect the right to a legal abortion. In the early years, there is an emphasis on electing pro-choice legislators.
NATIONAL: Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973). The United States Supreme Court holds that the U.S. Constitution guarantees a fundamental right to privacy under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment and protects the decision to have an abortion. The Court’s decision creates a trimester framework that allows for state interest in regulating abortion in the second and third trimesters.
MASSACHUSETTS: Dr. Kenneth Edelin, a Boston physician, is convicted and imprisoned for performing an illegal abortion because of the method used to provide the abortion. Activists believe that Dr. Edelin’s conviction could open the door to prosecuting abortion providers for homicide. In 1976, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court overturns his conviction.
NATIONAL: The Hyde Amendment, a federal provision barring the use of federal funds to pay for abortion except to save the life of the pregnant person or if the pregnancy arises from incest or rape, is passed into law.
NATIONAL: Rosie Jimenez dies in McAllen, Texas from complications of an unsafe abortion. Although covered by Medicaid, Rosie was denied insurance coverage of abortion care. Rosie was a single mom and only 27 years old when she died.
MASSACHUSETTS: MORAL becomes an affiliate of national NARAL.
MASSACHUSETTS: MORAL creates a Political Action Committee to endorse pro-choice candidates for statewide offices and support them through financial and in-kind contributions.
MASSACHUSETTS: NARAL launches Impact 80, a grassroots national campaign headquartered in Massachusetts, focused on mobilizing pro-choice voters by canvassing door-to-door. The campaign focuses on pro-choice candidates for the Massachusetts Senate. On January 22, 1980, 1,000 supporters converge on the Massachusetts State House to present the framework for a nationwide campaign to impact the 1980 elections. Organizing campaign strategies include house meetings, political skills workshops, and postcard campaigns all designed to be a viable force in Massachusetts elections.
The MORAL Area Team organizing model is initiated and becomes the central organizing tool of the NARAL Field Program. The area team model, based on community organizing techniques, is designed to turn politically inactive pro-choice people into voters, campaign contributors, and campaign workers. Area teams are located in Arlington, Brookline, Boston, Cape Cod, Jamaica Plain, Somerville, and Hampshire County. The teams work hard to defeat the 1986 anti-abortion ballot initiative. Area teams are active until about 2005.
MASSACHUSETTS: Moe v. Secretary of Administration and Finance, 382 Mass. 629 (1981). The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court holds “a statutory restriction on the funding of abortions under the Massachusetts Medical Assistance Program… impermissibly burdened a woman’s right to decide whether or not to terminate a pregnancy by abortion in violation of the right to due process of law as guaranteed by the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.”
MORAL is designated the Eastern United States site for NARAL’s Affiliate Development Program (ADP), making MORAL responsible for hiring, training, and supervising organizers from key states in the Eastern United States.
MASSACHUSETTS: In reaction to state “right to life” legislative election victories in 1978 and 1980, MORAL is involved in the state Democratic Party platform work to ensure all Massachusetts candidates are pro-choice.
MASSACHUSETTS: MORAL changes its name to Mass Choice, highlighting its commitment to the concept of choice, not just abortion rights.
NATIONAL: NARAL launches the “Abortion Rights: Silent No More” campaign using the slogan “We are Your Mothers, Your Daughters, Your Sisters, Your Friends, and Abortion is a Choice We Have Made.”
MASSACHUSETTS: Mass Choice participates in this campaign, organized by national NARAL as a counterpoint to the anti-abortion film The Silent Scream. A collection of 40,000 letters gathered from women in every state are read in Washington, D.C. on May 21, 1985. The Mass Choice Silent No More/A Call to Action campaign includes not only letters from people who got an abortion, but also letters from people sharing the stories of friends and family and their foundational belief in reproductive freedom.
MASSACHUSETTS: A coalition of reproductive freedom groups defeats Question 1, a proposed anti-choice amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution that would have stripped the Constitution of protections for abortion rights. Mass Choice is a key member of the leadership team that is essential to this statewide victory, and NARAL Area Teams work hard to defeat Question 1. The amendment is defeated 58%-42%.
NATIONAL: NARAL and other pro-choice organizations are instrumental in defeating President Reagan’s nomination of anti-choice Judge Robert Bork to the United States Supreme Court.
MASSACHUSETTS: Mass Choice puts a significant emphasis on building a pro-choice majority in the Massachusetts legislature. Members work directly for pro-choice candidates during the 1988 campaign and continue their efforts into the 1990s, eventually ensuring a pro-choice majority in the State House.
NATIONAL: NARAL cosponsors the March for Women’s Lives and Mobilize for Women’s Lives in Washington, D.C. The marches draw record-breaking crowds protesting restrictive, anti-choice laws.
Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 492 U.S. 490 (1989). The United States Supreme Court upholds a Missouri law that imposes restrictions on the use of state funds, facilities, and employees in performing, assisting with, or counseling on abortions.
MASSACHUSETTS: Mass Choice Training Institute is launched. The Training Institute strengthens pro-choice training of staff and board members, as well as for other organizations and individuals. The Training Institute holds workshops for speakers, trainers, candidates, and campaign workers.
Mass Choice sponsors a “Who Decides” Rally at the State House after the Webster v. Reproductive Health Services decision from the U.S. Supreme court. In a milestone for the pro-choice movement in Massachusetts, over 5,000 people attend the rally.
Over 300 people come to the State House to support abortion rights and call for an amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution that would guarantee the right to an abortion. In addition, participants lobby representatives for a bill that would give rape victims state funds for abortion counseling and services.
Mass Choice sends activists to the National Mobilization for Women’s Lives in Washington, D.C.
MASSACHUSETTS: Mass Choice endorses Republican William Weld over Democrat John Silber in the 1990 Massachusetts Governor’s race. Weld articulated a fully pro-choice position to secure Mass Choice’s endorsement, a turning point in Massachusetts politics. From that point on, it becomes important for governors in the Commonwealth to be pro-choice.
NATIONAL: The March for Women’s Lives, a massive rally of over 750,000 people, is held in Washington, D.C. in response the very real fear that the United States Supreme Court would use Planned Parenthood v. Casey to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992). Though activists feared the United States Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade, the Court reaffirms the right to privacy, stating “matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.” However, the Court introduces the undue burden standard to determine the constitutionality of abortion restrictions. This more restrictive standard than the standard created in Roe allows states to regulate abortion in the first trimester, or after viability, as long as the regulation does not impose an undue burden on abortion. Using this new standard, the Court upholds Pennsylvania law mandating parental consent to abortion and informed consent with a 24-hour delay and biased counseling requirements. The Court strikes down a Pennsylvania statute mandating spousal notification prior to obtaining abortion care.
NARAL is instrumental in mobilizing thousands of pro-choice Americans and electing William J. Clinton, the first fully pro-choice President.
An anti-choice extremist kills Dr. David Gunn during a protest outside his clinic in Pensacola, Florida. It is the first assassination of an abortion provider in the United States.
MASSACHUSETTS: The first pro-choice majority is elected to the Massachusetts state senate.
NATIONAL: Two days after taking the oath of office, on the 20th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, President Clinton issues executive orders overturning five discriminatory anti-choice policies including revoking the Domestic and Global Gag rules.
President Clinton signs the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) into law thereby requiring covered employers to provide employees with job protection and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons, including the birth of a child.
MASSACHUSETTS: The Clinic Access Bill passes, prohibiting clinic blockades and establishing penalties for causing obstruction of entry or departure from medical facilities.
NATIONAL: Partially in response to the murder of Dr. David Gunn by an anti-choice extremist, Congress passes the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances law, which forbids threats, force, or physical obstructions aimed at preventing someone from obtaining reproductive health services.
MASSACHUSETTS: An anti-abortion extremist murders two people and wounds five others in shootings at the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts and Preterm Health Services in Brookline. After the shootings, a multi-phased effort is initiated to preserve the safety and privacy of those accessing abortion clinics. Following the murders, Laura Chasin starts the Public Conversations Project, a nearly 5 1/2 year effort to bring pro-choice and anti-choice leaders together to discuss all sides of the issue. The group meets in secret for years. In 2001, the Boston Globe publishes a lengthy article, “Talking with the Enemy,” on the work of this group. Melissa Kogut, Executive Director of Mass Choice, is one of the participants in this groundbreaking effort.
MASSACHUSETTS: Mass Choice changes its name to Mass NARAL, as do many other state affiliates, to clarify its relationship with National NARAL.
State Employees Health Insurance Bill passes, requiring abortion coverage in the health insurance for state and municipal employees.
MASSACHUSETTS: Planned Parenthood League v. Attorney General, 424 Mass. 586 (1998). The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court holds that the two-parent requirement for unmarried minors is unconstitutional and issues an order that the law be changed to require the consent of only one parent.
MASSACHUSETTS: Mass NARAL launches the Gain Access Committee (Grassroots Action Needed for Access), a public education, awareness, and community organizing program designed to increase access to abortion and family planning services particularly in under-served communities.
NATIONAL: RU-486 (Mifepristone), a medication used to induce abortion, is approved by the FDA for use in the United States.
Stenberg v. Carhart, 530 U.S. 914 (2000). Using the undue burden standard, the United States Supreme Court holds a Nebraska ban on second trimester abortions is unconstitutional. The decision invalidates similar laws in many other states.
MASSACHUSETTS: Massachusetts passes a buffer zone bill aimed at improving safety in and around reproductive health clinics. Mass NARAL staff and members across the state join forces with Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts to ensure that legislators hear from their constituents about the importance of the bill and that the media focuses on the important protections the bill provides.
MASSACHUSETTS: The Contraceptive Coverage Bill is signed into law, requiring private health insurance plans in Massachusetts to cover the cost of FDA approved prescription contraceptives, Hormone Replacement Therapy, contraceptive consultation, examinations and medical services provided on an outpatient basis.
MASSACHUSETTS: When national NARAL becomes NARAL Pro-Choice America, Mass NARAL follows, becoming NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts.
NATIONAL: The March for Women’s Lives is held in Washington, D.C. With over a million participants, it not only demonstrates the power of the pro-choice movement but is (at the time) the largest demonstration in American history.
MASSACHUSETTS: A pro-choice majority is elected in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for the first time in state history.
MASSACHUSETTS: The Emergency Contraception bill becomes law after a legislative override in the face of a veto by Governor Mitt Romney. The bill enables pharmacists to dispense emergency contraception through a collaborative agreement with a doctor, and makes emergency contraception available to sexual assault survivors at hospital emergency rooms.
MASSACHUSETTS: After a successful lawsuit, the state Board of Registration in Pharmacy requires Walmart to sell the emergency contraceptive drug Plan B at all 44 pharmacies in the state.
The Massachusetts Health Care law is enacted. NARAL works with legislative and executive branch allies to ensure that health plans include coverage for both abortion and contraception during the three-year implementation phase. This includes abortion coverage for lower-income Massachusetts residents enrolled in Commonwealth Care, a subsidized program that provides insurance coverage for nearly 160,000 Massachusetts residents who do not qualify for MassHealth (Medicaid), and Commonwealth Choice, the non-subsidized plan.
NATIONAL: Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124 (2007). The United States Supreme Court upholds the so-called Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003 and determines that it did not place an “undue burden” on a pregnant person’s due process rights. Although Gonzales does not overrule Stenberg, by banning a specific method of abortion care it signals a major shift in abortion jurisprudence after the resignation of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
MASSACHUSETTS: NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts works in coalition with Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts NOW chapter, the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus, and other groups to pass the Buffer Zone Bill. The new law establishes a fixed, 35-foot buffer zone outside the entrances and driveways of reproductive health facilities.
NATIONAL: In the first few days of his presidency, Barack Obama signs several executive orders, including a repeal of the Global Gag Rule banning federal funds to foreign family planning organizations that offer abortions or provide information or counseling on abortion.
Dr. George Tiller, one of only a few doctors in the nation who performs abortions late in pregnancy, is assassinated in the foyer of his church while handing out the church bulletin.
NATIONAL: President Obama signs the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law. The law is a critical advancement for reproductive health care which mandates that private insurers cover co-pay free birth control, wellness visits, mammograms, breast feeding support, and maternity care as an essential benefit. People can no longer be denied health insurance coverage because of pre-existing conditions like pregnancy nor can women be charged more for health insurance than men. While a major step forward for reproductive health, the health care law unfairly treats abortion coverage as a separate and distinct—even stigmatized—benefit, and imposes significant disincentives on insurance companies that want to include abortion services in their coverage.
MASSACHUSETTS: NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts publishes the first guide to Abortion Care in Massachusetts and distributes it to women’s centers and agencies across the Commonwealth.
Five pro-choice new legislators are elected to statewide office. This historic number of successful elections ensures a continued pro-choice majority in both the House and Senate.
NATIONAL: As a reaction to the passage of the ACA, state legislatures take up the attack on choice: five states enact abortion-coverage bans, four states enact 20-week bans, one state enacts mandatory-ultrasound legislation, one state enacts a race-/sex-based ban, and two states enact affiliation bans. Many other states take up anti-choice measures.
MASSACHUSETTS: After a yearlong investigation, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts publishes Just Because You’re Pregnant… Lies, Half Truths, and Manipulation at Crisis Pregnancy Centers in Massachusetts. The report documents the misleading, and often outright false, health information these fake women’s health centers frequently give to women across the Commonwealth.
NARAL works with the Board of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority to eliminate co-pays for family planning under Commonwealth Care. Four months after this coverage goes into effect, the federal Institute of Medicine (IOM) recognizes contraception as well as sexual health counseling and screenings as essential preventive care that insurance plans must cover at no cost.
NATIONAL: Ilyse Hogue becomes the new President of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
NATIONAL: McCullen v. Coakley, Attorney General of Massachusetts, et. al., 573 U.S. ___ (2014). The United States Supreme Court strikes down the 2007 Massachusetts buffer zone law as overly broad and in violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech.
Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, 573 U.S. ___ (2014). The United States Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, finding that it is not the least restrictive means of ensuring access to contraceptive care and notes that a less restrictive alternative is being provided for religious non-profits. NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue calls the decision “shocking…allow[ing] bosses to reach beyond the boardroom and into their employees’ bedrooms.”
MASSACHUSETTS: In May 2014, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts works in coalition with formerly incarcerated people, medical groups, legal and human rights organizations, women’s groups, and faith leaders to pass the Anti-Shackling Bill. This law prohibits the inhumane practice of shackling pregnant people in jails and prisons and establishes standards for prenatal and postpartum medical care that includes health monitoring and evaluation, a diet to maintain a healthy pregnancy, postpartum screening for depression, and appropriate clothing, undergarments and sanitary supplies. Massachusetts becomes the twentieth state with such a law on its books.
On July 8th, the Supreme Rally for Women’s Equity in Boston City Plaza brings together reproductive rights supporters in response to McCullen v. Coakley, Attorney General of Massachusetts, and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., two major setbacks for reproductive freedom.
After the McCullen v. Coakley, Attorney General of Massachusetts decision, deeming 35-foot buffer zones unconstitutional, Governor Deval Patrick signs An Act to Promote Public Safety and Protect Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities (“Safe Access Bill”) into law. This law enables law enforcement officers to disperse gatherings that substantially impede access to a reproductive health care facility.
NATIONAL: Since 1993, at least 11 people have been killed in attacks on abortion clinics.
MASSACHUSETTS: As a result of advocacy by NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts and its partners, MassHealth releases new regulations allowing more abortion providers to offer their services to patients with insurance coverage through MassHealth.
NATIONAL: Campaigning on a platform of overturning Roe v. Wade, Donald Trump defeats Hillary Clinton to win the U.S. presidency.
Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, 579 U.S. ___ (2016). This landmark United States Supreme Court decision holds that Texas cannot place restrictions on the delivery of abortion services that create an undue burden for women seeking an abortion and strikes down H.B. 2, a law that (1) required abortion providers have admitting privileges at local hospitals and (2) mandated that abortion clinics have hospital-grade facilities. This provides the basis for many lawsuits across the country challenging state legislation designed to make abortion inaccessible to women.
MASSACHUSETTS: Republican Governor Charlie Baker nominates five new justices to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, all of whom support a abortion rights. NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts members line the hearing room in purple pro-choice t-shirts to ensure that committee members ask about the nominee’s stance on choice.
NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts members participate in a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt hearing.
MASSACHUSETTS: In response to advocacy by a broad coalition including NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act becomes law. This legislation ensures that pregnant workers are treated fairly on the job, are protected against workplace discrimination, and are given the reasonable workplace accomodations they need and deserve, like water and bathroom breaks.
In response to the Trump administration gutting the contraceptive coverage mandate, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts and partners work to safeguard contraceptive coverage in Massachusetts with passage of An Act Relative to Advancing Contraceptive Coverage and Economic Security in Our State. The new law requires all insurance carriers in Massachusetts to provide co-pay free contraceptive coverage, including over-the-counter emergency contraception, as well as a twelve-month supply of birth control.
NATIONAL: President Trump, Vice President Pence and the Cabinet represent a major national and international threat to reproductive health, safety and rights. In the first two years of his presidency, Trump rescinds the birth control mandate under the ACA, reinstates the Global and Domestic Gag rules, appoints two anti-choice justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, and slashes teen pregnancy-prevention funding.
MASSACHUSETTS: NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts is instrumental in passing legislation to expand and protect reproductive freedom across the Commonwealth.
First, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts works with leadership in the House and Senate to repeal archaic statutes from the Massachusetts General Laws criminalizing reproductive health care. The laws repealed include (1) a ban on unmarried people accessing contraception; (2) ban on distributing information about how to access contraception or abortion care; (3) a ban on distributing contraception; (4) a pre-Roe v. Wade criminal abortion ban; (5) a requirement that all abortions provided from the thirteenth week of pregnancy onward be performed in a hospital; (6) a ban on adultery; and (7) a ban on fornication. Repeal of these archaic laws ensures that regardless of what happens in Congress or in the United States Supreme Court, Massachusetts will remain a beacon of reproductive freedom.
Second, an Act to Protect Access to Confidential Healthcare (PATCH Act) is signed into law after advocacy from a wide-ranging coalition of health care groups, including NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. This bill prevents a potential violation of patient privacy built into the billing process of many health insurers. When an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) is sent to the primary subscriber outlining recent health procedures, including reproductive healthcare, the patient’s confidentiality could be compromised. The bill protects confidentiality by using generic language (e.g., medical service) when sensitive care is provided.
Third, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts works as a coalition member of Raise Up in supporting Paid Family and Medical Leave for all Massachusetts employees. The law creates a paid family and medical leave insurance program and raises the minimum wage to $15 over five years. This bill allows all parents, including those who adopt, the time to care for their children and allows everyone to care for ailing family members without the fear of financial instability.