SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Supreme Court on Friday struck down Roe v. Wade, eliminating the nearly 50-year-old constitutional right to abortion and handing states authority to drastically limit or ban the procedure.
More than two dozen states, primarily in the South and Midwest, are expected to tighten abortion access as a result of Roe falling, including 13 states with “trigger bans” set to take effect automatically or through minimal efforts by state officials.
What does this mean for Massachusetts?
In 2020, Massachusetts passed the Roe Act, keeping abortion legal in the Commonwealth. At the time, Governor Baker had his reservations, he has since shifted his position. On Tuesday, lawmakers and advocates gathered outside the State House to rally against the potential Supreme Court ruling. At the rally, pro-choice advocates said women have been calling from out-of-state to find abortion access here in Massachusetts.
Although the right to abortion access has been codified into law, elected officials believe more could be done to protect women from out of state seeking reproductive health services.
Governor Charlie Baker signed an executive order to protect access to reproductive health care services in the Commonwealth in response to the US Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v Wade.
State and local officials issued the following statements in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker
“I am deeply disappointed in today’s decision by the Supreme Court which will have major consequences for women across the country who live in states with limited access to reproductive health care services. The Commonwealth has long been a leader in protecting a woman’s right to choose and access to reproductive health services, while other states have criminalized or otherwise restricted access,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This executive order will further preserve that right and protect reproductive health care providers who serve out of state residents. In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v Wade, it is especially important to ensure that Massachusetts providers can continue to provide reproductive health care services without concern that the laws of other states may be used to interfere with those services or sanction them for providing services that are lawful in the Commonwealth.”
“We are proud of the Commonwealth’s history of ensuring access to reproductive health care, and will continue to do so, despite today’s ruling from the Supreme Court,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “With these actions, Massachusetts is once again leading the way in protecting a woman’s right to choose.”
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey
“We knew this was coming, but that doesn’t make it any less painful, less enraging, or less terrifying for the tens of millions of people who stand to lose access to basic, life-saving care. Today, for the first time ever, the Court has taken away a constitutional right – a right that has been recognized for nearly half a century. But in Massachusetts and other states where abortion will remain legal and accessible, we’ll do everything we can to ensure patients from across the country can receive needed care and to support and protect our providers who are offering that care. The majority of Americans want to keep abortion safe and legal, and I’m calling on Congress to do just that by codifying Roe.”
Massachusetts Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal
“Today’s ruling is the dangerous culmination of Republicans’ decades-long effort to roll back women’s freedoms and control their health care decisions. This is a distressing and shameful step backwards. Democrats will fight like hell to protect women’s rights.”
Massachusetts Senate President Karen E. Spilka
“Today is an extremely dark day for America, as we face what can only be called a ‘nightmare scenario’ for women and those who can get pregnant across this nation. It is important to stress that abortion remains and will remain legal in Massachusetts. This fundamental right to health care is here to stay in the Commonwealth, and I will fight every day to strengthen and protect it.
In its Fiscal Year 2023 budget, the Senate included language protecting access to reproductive health care, and today, Governor Baker issued an Executive Order which aligns very closely with this language. There is increased urgency to codify these provisions so that we can ensure the safety and continued protections of our residents. I remain grateful that the Commonwealth stands united to safeguard these protections.”
Massachusetts Senator Eric P. Lesser
“Today’s dangerous decision by the Supreme Court confirmed our worst fears and validates the need to codify Roe in our state constitution. Thanks to steps Massachusetts has previously taken, abortion will remain legal and is protected under state-level statute. However, today’s decision raises the risk of a federal ban on abortion in the near future, which is why further safeguards are now necessary. Specifically, I believe we need to begin the process to enshrine reproductive freedom in our state constitution, alongside the freedom of speech, assembly, religion, and other basic rights. Our neighbors in Vermont have already begun this process. It’s important to start now, especially since it takes many years to complete. With the threat of our rights being changed at a moment’s notice, Massachusetts must put up every possible protection for our residents and families.”
Massachusetts State Democratic Party Chair Gus Bickford
“Today’s news has sent shockwaves across our country and we, first and foremost, stand in unwavering solidarity with the women of Massachusetts and the United States. Massachusetts has some of the strongest reproductive equity laws in the nation and abortion remains legal in Massachusetts thanks to advocacy from local leaders and the actions of Democrats on Beacon Hill. Despite that, we will not simply stand by as the basic human rights of women are stolen elsewhere. Many Republicans have worked diligently and systematically for years to ensure this day would come while others in the GOP have remained pathetically silent and looked the other way. Either way, history will take note. What Republicans surely did not expect is the response this will mobilize in all 50 states. This is a dark day in America, but we will not be deterred in our pursuit to right this wrong. It is Democrats who will ensure we restore these protections and honor a person’s right to make decisions about their own body.”
Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts
“This dangerous and chilling decision will have devastating consequences across the country, forcing people to travel hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles for care or remain pregnant. Abortion is health care, and access to care should not be based on one’s zip code, income level, or identity.
This is a dark day for our country, but we’ve been preparing for this. In Massachusetts, abortion will remain legal and protected under state law – the Court’s decision does not change this, and PPLM is here for our patients today, and always.
Right now, people can look to Massachusetts: for care and for leadership. We must meet this moment with the urgency it demands by taking action to expand access to all sexual and reproductive health care — in our clinics providing care to all who want it and by legislating reproductive health equity in every corner of the Commonwealth.” Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts
The Diocese of Springfield Bishop Byrne
“I affirm today’s Supreme Court decision, upholding each state’s right to defend life. Here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts we still have much work to do so that all citizens recognize the sanctity of all human life. We continue to work, advocate and pray that our brothers and sisters will recognize the right to life of the most vulnerable among us. This includes not just the unborn who are so precious to us, but all people who are vulnerable. We will continue to work to affirm this right, the right given by God alone that all life is sacred and intended.
We will continue to support women and families facing a crisis pregnancy through the many ministries and services in the Diocese of Springfield.
I also pray that those who are upset by this decision will raise their voices in a peaceful manner.”
Massachusetts Citizens for Life
“This is a moment that life advocates have worked tirelessly for throughout the past half-century. A grave and unjust abuse of judicial power has been corrected. The American people now have a voice, a united voice that, today, raises even louder on behalf of the voiceless. Our work is just beginning, as we aim to bridge the great cultural chasm that Roe v. Wade created. We will not stop working to save the lives of innocent unborn human beings. We will not cease our efforts to understand the needs of their mothers and to extend love and support to every woman who faces a crisis during pregnancy. Women deserve better than abortion. Women and men deserve the truth and every opportunity to live outside the shadow of abortion and in the bright light of real and lasting joy, a joy that comes only from honoring life.
“Unfortunately, abortions will continue to be available in many places throughout the United States and here in Massachusetts,” says Maloney Flynn. “Pro-abortion legislators in Massachusetts recently passed more funding for abortion and lowered the age of parental consent from 18 to 16. Despite the scare tactics from the pro-abortion lobby, abortions will unfortunately still happen here in Massachusetts. All of us at Massachusetts Citizens for Life and our thousands of members around the state are dedicated to educating the public about the humanity of the unborn and the resources available to pregnant women who need assistance.” Myrna Maloney Flynn, Massachusetts Citizens for Life’s President
MGH Institute of Health Professions
“This is really devastating for the future of reproductive justice.”
“It’s extremely sad to see a right people have had for nearly 50 years be taken away. But it’s also not surprising – we’ve been moving in this direction for the last 30 years because there has been a steady chipping away of the rights of people to have an abortion in the US, so this is essentially the cherry on top of a policy landscape that’s already made it increasingly difficult for people without means.”
Boston Area Rape Crisis Center
“Today’s decision striking down Roe v. Wade, is upsetting, frustrating, and painful.
Abortion care is essential for sexual assault survivors, people experiencing abusive or coercive relationships, and all people who seek to end a pregnancy. BARCC will continue to collaborate with survivors seeking options counseling, abortion care, or abortion funding.
As a community of and for survivors, BARCC recognizes that some perpetrators of sexual violence will use pregnancy to control, influence, or threaten survivors. Pregnancies could unwillingly tether survivors to their perpetrators for a lifetime, legally and practically. Every survivor has the fundamental right to weigh all their options and to make the decision that is best for them at that time.
At BARCC we stand up for survivors and fight for social change. This unfortunate decision does not alter our collective vision of working for a society free of all forms of oppression, where sexual violence does not exist and everyone is free to go about their daily lives knowing that their bodies, identities, minds, and spirits will always be valued and respected.” Duane de Four, Interim Executive Director
Massachusetts Nurses Association Board of Directors
“The ability to exercise bodily autonomy is a fundamental human right. The U.S. Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade radically disrupts healthcare in the United States and disproportionately places low-income, under-resourced and traditionally marginalized people at risk. The ruling adds additional unfair obstacles to women and all child-bearing people who face heightened barriers to exercising their reproductive rights and autonomy. There has been increasing recognition and validation of healthcare inequality, particularly along racial and economic lines. This reversal of Roe v. Wade codifies that inequality, further harming communities whose health are already endangered by these disparities. This decision means significant backward movement in our nation’s efforts to address healthcare inequality and opens the door to additional erosion of individual choice.
“Legal experts have predicted this decision could trigger dormant abortion bans in many states and lead to abortion restrictions being implemented across the country. The Roe reversal may result in the targeting of caregivers, physicians, nurses, and nurse practitioners who provide abortion services. A Texas law allows members of the public to pursue civil lawsuits against providers, and an Alabama law would subject physicians to criminal prosecution, including a life sentence in prison. The criminalization of providing essential healthcare services is a dark vision of our future that cannot stand. We must also resist returning to a time when child-bearing people were forced to take health risks to exercise their right to bodily autonomy. The decision may also threaten federal rights to same-sex marriage and access to contraceptives.
“As union members, nurses, and healthcare professionals, we believe everyone should have equal access to healthcare. Where you live and how much money you have should not determine if you can receive safe, legal abortion services. No one’s race or any other aspect of their identity should be used to restrict their health choices. We deliver care based on best practices. As nurses in Massachusetts, we are responsible for the ‘health maintenance, teaching, counseling, collaborative planning, and restoration of optimal functioning and comfort’ of our patients. Healthcare decisions should be between patients and their providers, without the interference of government or political ideology.
“This reversal of Roe and other laws seeking to curtail individual rights and freedom will perpetuate our country’s cycle of racism, sexism, and inequality. This is something we must all stand up against. As our union has taught us time and time again, an injustice to one is an injustice to all. MNA nurses and healthcare professionals supported passage of the Commonwealth’s Roe Act and have demonstrated a longstanding commitment to ensuring equitable access to all healthcare services, including the termination of a pregnancy. We are fully dedicated not just to our individual patients but to advancing the cause of universal healthcare that meets the needs of everyone equally. The progress that has been made in the United States to broaden and equalize healthcare access should not be halted and reversed. We must unite in opposition to the erosion of human rights and fight for healthcare justice for all.”