FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NARAL Pro-Choice MA Contact: Rebecca Hart Holder
E: Rebecca@prochoicemass.org
C: 718.415.1513

NIRH Contact: Stephanie Reichin
E: SReichin@SKDKnick.com
C: 617.549.3745 

With Roe v. Wade in Jeopardy, Massachusetts Governor Signs Bill Into Law Decriminalizing Abortion

With new law, Massachusetts proves states are best defense against hostile Supreme Court, Congress, and Presidential Administration

S.2260 overturns centuries-old statutes that criminalized abortion, restricted access to contraception, authorized unnecessary burdens to abortion care and punished providers

Boston, MA – With Roe v. Wade in jeopardy and reproductive freedom under attack at the federal level, Governor Charlie Baker today signed proactive legislation to decriminalize abortion and protect reproductive health care in Massachusetts. The bill, S.2260, overturns archaic pre-Roe Massachusetts statutes that date back as far as the 1800s, and underscores the importance of state leadership in protecting women’s access to care in the face of a hostile president, Congress and Supreme Court.

“Repealing Massachusetts’ criminal abortion ban is a major step forward in the midst of the worst nationwide landscape we’ve ever seen,” said Rebecca Hart Holder, Executive Director, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. “With this win under our belts, we are now poised to further expand access to reproductive health care, including abortion care, so that Massachusetts is prepared to embrace its full potential of being a safe haven for reproductive health care access.”

“Today Governor Baker confirmed that decriminalizing abortion on the state level is a commonsense, bi-partisan, and necessary step if we are to safeguard access to reproductive health care in this country,” said Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health. “It’s time for other states – starting with New York – to repeal their antiquated laws. And we can’t stop there – decriminalizing abortion lays the groundwork for advancing a bold agenda that ensures any woman who has decided to have an abortion has access to safe, respectful, affordable abortion care in her community, without shame or pressure.”

S.2260, or An Act negating archaic statutes targeting young women – the NASTY Women Act – easily cleared both the Massachusetts House and Senate last week. The bill removes laws dating back 173 years that criminalized abortion and no longer hold up to constitutional standards, including:

  • A law that makes it illegal to “procur[e] a miscarriage;” and carries stiff penalties;
  • A ban on unmarried people accessing abortion and contraception;
  • A ban on distributing information on how to procure contraception or abortion care;
  • A law which punishes doctors, pharmacists, and all healthcare providers for distributing contraception or providing abortion care;
  • A ban on adultery;
  • A ban on fornication.

Across the country, states are considering similar legislation to update their abortion laws and safeguard access to care should the Supreme Court further gut or even overturn Roe v. Wade. In New York, NIRH is advocating for the Reproductive Health Act (RHA), legislation that, like the bill passed in Massachusetts, would wipe outdated criminal abortion bans from the books; it would also enshrine abortion rights into state law. Rhode Island is considering similar legislation to decimalize abortion, and last year, Delaware repealed its pre-Roe abortion statutes and Illinois rescinded a rule that would have outlawed abortion if Roe is overturned.

“NIRH is proud to partner with NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts to keep fighting for reproductive health, rights and justice,” continued Miller. “We will work to ensure that New York and the other states with which NIRH partners will accelerate their efforts to update pre-Roe laws and safeguard women’s access to the abortion care they need.”

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NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts is the leading grassroots pro-choice advocacy organization in the Commonwealth, and works to protect every woman’s right to access the full range of reproductive health options, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion. NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts is the state affiliate of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

The National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH) builds power at the state and local levels to change public policy, galvanize public support, and normalize women’s decisions about abortion and contraception. Using a partnership model, NIRH provides state and local advocates with strategic guidance, hands-on support, and funding to create national change from the ground up. In 2018, NIRH is working with state and local advocates to advance reproductive freedom in 23 states; to date, NIRH has partnered with more than 150 reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations in 39 states and 56 localities across the country.