We’ll never stop fighting to protect and expand a woman’s fundamental human right to decide for herself if, when and with whom to start or grow a family.
The Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that affirmed abortion as a constitutional right for all was supposed to be the beginning of the fight for women’s equality and autonomy, not the end. Since then, we’ve been forced to defend it over and over again as anti-choice politicians and organizations focus on undermining and chipping away at our rights until they can do away with legal abortion access completely. They’ve passed hundreds of laws to restrict a woman’s ability to access safe, legal abortion care. These laws take many forms, including trying to outlaw abortion altogether, shutting down clinics, restricting access based on income level and dictating which medical procedures are available.
Anti-choice extremists will stop at nothing. They have opened thousands of fake health-care “clinics” that lie to and mislead women to prevent them from considering abortion as an option. And some anti-abortion zealots—emboldened by extreme rhetoric from anti-choice groups and politicians—have even murdered doctors and bombed clinics.
When the right to abortion is endangered, the fundamental equality of women is threatened. A woman can never be equal if she is denied the basic right to make decisions for herself and her family.
Seven in 10 Americans support the right to legal abortion.1 NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts will continue to fight to keep abortion safe and legal for all women in the Commonwealth, regardless of ZIP code or income. We will mobilize together to defeat attacks in the State House. We’ll help elect candidates who will be champions for reproductive freedom. And we will continue to educate, inform and rally the public to protect and expand the fundamental human right of all people to make their own decisions about their lives.
Restrictions on Abortion Access
Under current Massachusetts law, young people under the age of 18 seeking abortion care must either obtain consent from a parent for abortion care or obtain judicial authorization for an abortion through a legal procedure known as a judicial bypass. This is one of the most restrictive and burdensome parental consent laws in New England, ultimately jeopardizing the health and wellbeing of young adults.
Many would agree that it is ideal for parents to be involved in a young woman’s reproductive health care decisions, including the challenging circumstance of an unintended pregnancy. In fact, research demonstrates that most young women do turn to their parents when considering an abortion, regardless of whether they live in states that mandate parental consent, as Massachusetts does.
However, the reality is that not all young women have family situations that allow them to safely turn to a parent to discuss options in the face of an unintended pregnancy. Unfortunately, some young women may face physical or emotional violence in the home if they disclose an unintended pregnancy. A young woman may be pregnant as a result of incest. In these situations, mandating parental consent to end a pregnancy may have serious consequences and can pose added risks to their health and well-being of some young adults. Moreover, obtaining a judicial bypass is an unduly complicated, burdensome, and potentially frightening process that may prevent young adults from seeking the reproductive health care they need.
The nation’s leading medical organizations, including the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics, oppose parental consent laws because they impose barriers to care that can harm the young women they purport to protect. Such government mandates can increase the threat of violence in the home and expose a young woman to the health risks associated with delayed medical care and unwanted childbirth. They may also compel her to leave her home state for the health care she needs, to try to “hold out” until she turns 18, or to take more drastic measures, such as attempting self-harm.
A 2009 Guttmacher Institute analysis found that young women in Massachusetts seeking out-of-state care rose by a striking 300% after the parental consent law was adopted, while the in-state teen abortion rate decreased by a much smaller proportion.2 In addition, a study conducted in Texas showed that implementation of their parental involvement mandate led older teens to delay obtaining their abortions—long past the first trimester—until they had turned 18 and could consent to the procedure themselves.3
To better safeguard the health and wellbeing of young adults, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts strongly supports H.3649, An Act to Ensure Teen Safety as key to ensuring that young women who cannot turn to their parents when facing an unintended pregnancy have an avenue to access the health care they need without obtaining parental consent or a judicial bypass.
NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts further supports H.893, An Act to Improve the Safety of Young Women, as an important step that would revise the current law to offer young women between 18 and 16 years old who cannot turn to their parents an avenue to access the health care they need without obtaining parental consent or a judicial bypass. This change will better safeguard the health and wellbeing of young adults.
Prevalent Fake Women’s Health Centers
Fake women’s health centers (FWHCs), sometimes known as “crisis pregnancy centers,” are fake health-care clinics that lie to, shame and intentionally mislead women about their reproductive-health-care options to block them from accessing abortion care. For every abortion clinic in Massachusetts, there are three FWHCs.
The Trump administration has further emboldened anti-choice forces and, recently, a FWHC in Attleboro MA rebranded to present itself as a clinic offering abortion services to women — a blatant lie. We are combating this malicious behavior by arming women with the tools they need to find the health care that is right for them. A woman facing an unintended pregnancy deserves medically accurate, comprehensive and unbiased information.
1 National Polling on Abortion Access, NARAL Pro-Choice America
2 The Impact of Laws Requiring Parental Involvement for Abortion: A Literature Review, Guttmacher Institute
3 Minors’ Behavioral Responses to Parental Involvement Laws: Delaying Abortion Until Age 18, Colman S and Joyce T, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health