Six labor unions today announced their support for the ROE Act, joining a list of nearly 60 organizations that back an effort to protect and expand abortion access in Massachusetts.
The endorsing labor unions represent over 220,000 Massachusetts workers, and include the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Boston Teachers Union (BTU), Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA), Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), SEIU Local 509, and 1199SEIU. This is the first concerted labor union effort in support of abortion rights in Massachusetts.
"A woman's health care must always be between her and her doctor, but that is still not guaranteed here in Massachusetts,” said Beth Kontos, president of AFT Massachusetts. “We must act to remove any remaining legal barriers that can be used to delay or deny women access to critical care. The ROE Act will ensure that health care decisions stay between a woman and her provider, without state interference.”
"As educators, we are a part of this fight on behalf of our co-workers, our families, our students, our communities, and ourselves,” said Jessica Tang, president of BTU. “The Boston Teachers Union is a union comprised predominantly of women who fight every day for the rights of all workers. That includes fighting for the right to safe, accessible, and equitable health care, which is what the ROE Act is all about. In the face of an inevitable assault on our freedoms from the federal courts, we are calling upon the state legislature to protect our rights, defend access to health care, and take the lead for women by passing the ROE act now."
The ROE Act, among other provisions, builds safeguards for young people seeking abortion care; includes abortion in the pregnancy-related safety-net coverage provided to Massachusetts residents ineligible for MassHealth coverage; ensures access to abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy in cases of fatal fetal diagnosis; reforms state law to remove inflammatory definitions and medically unnecessary restrictions; and codifies the principles of reproductive freedom into state law.
“As a nurse, my colleagues and I are responsible for the ‘health maintenance, teaching, counseling, collaborative planning, and restoration of optimal functioning and comfort’ of our patients. We are to deliver this care based on best medical practices and what is best for our patients,” said Donna Kelly-Williams, RN, president of MNA. “This is why the MNA supports the ROE Act. This position is in keeping with our longstanding commitment to ensuring equitable access to all health care services for those in need of those services, including the termination of a pregnancy.”
“We are a union of educators. Three-quarters of our 116,000 members are women and we educate more than 460,00 girls in our public schools,” said Merrie Najimy, president of MTA. “We live in an era in which a woman’s right to affordable and accessible health care is under attack, as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to further erode or eliminate Roe v. Wade. We know that some of our students will become pregnant, and some of them will have legitimate reasons why they can’t talk to their parents about it. We need the ROE Act now more than ever to protect the rights of our students, our members, and of all women in the state to have access to safe, affordable abortion care.”
"SEIU 509 is proud to join our union siblings across Massachusetts in supporting the ROE Act,” said Peter MacKinnon, President of SEIU 509. “As a union of 20,000 members strong, we fight to break down the barriers of economic inequality every single day. A woman's right to choose when and how she plans a family is at the heart of her economic empowerment. Ensuring reproductive justice will not only benefit women - but working families across our Commonwealth."
“On behalf of more than 60,000 health care workers throughout Massachusetts, 1199SEIU is proud to support the ROE Act,” said Becca Gutman, vice president of 1199SEIU. “Current Massachusetts law limits access to health care, ties the hands of medical professionals, and makes what can be a complex decision even more difficult. It’s time our laws reflect the Commonwealth’s commitment to reproductive freedom and health care access. By fighting for the ROE Act, we are ensuring no one’s economic status limits their ability to access safe, legal abortion.”
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. The labor unions now join dozens of medical, advocacy, and legal groups that support of the legislation.