The legislature today overrode Governor Baker’s veto that would have preserved medically unnecessary and politically motivated barriers to abortion care. The ROE Act Coalition issued the following statement celebrating the state legislature’s final passage of legislation to remove barriers to abortion access:
“The passage of these reforms to improve abortion access is a historic milestone for reproductive freedom in Massachusetts. Today, the Commonwealth reestablished itself as a national leader in health care by removing political barriers to abortion and becoming the first state to legislatively ease burdensome restrictions on young people’s access to care. The legislature’s leadership means no Bay State family who receives a devastating diagnosis later in pregnancy will ever be forced to fly across the country to access compassionate care and no 16- or 17-year-old will ever be forced to navigate the court system to access the health care they need. This legislation will significantly improve the health and wellbeing of Massachusetts residents and represents an important step in removing medically unnecessary barriers to abortion care in our state.
“We thank the lawmakers who have fought alongside us for the past two years, especially Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler, Speaker Pro Tempore Pat Haddad, and Representative Jay Livingstone for their work as lead sponsors of the ROE Act. Their collective and unparalleled commitment to reproductive freedom will benefit many generations to come. We also thank House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka, and Judiciary Committee Chairs Claire Cronin and Jamie Eldridge for their unwavering leadership in the face of a global pandemic, inflammatory attacks from anti-abortion activists, and a Governor who stood in the way of meaningful reform.”
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 new law contains essential ROE Act provisions that improve access to reproductive health care for pregnant people across the state:
- The law 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 had some of the most restrictive laws denying young people abortion access. With the new law, Massachusetts is the first state in the country to legislatively ease burdensome restrictions on young people’s access to care.
- The law enables families to obtain care later in pregnancy in cases of lethal fetal diagnosis -- without having to travel across the country.
- Under former Massachusetts law, families had to travel out of state--often as far as Colorado or New Mexico--to access abortion. They had to 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 legislation codifies reproductive rights into state law.