FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DECEMBER 29, 2020
CONTACT: Kelly Novak, [email protected]

In the face of two vetoes from Governor Baker, advocates and legislators pull key ROE Act provisions over the finish line, expanding access to abortion care

NEW YORK – The National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH) congratulates and applauds the Massachusetts legislature for passing critical provisions of the ROE Act, a significant win for protecting and expanding reproductive freedom. This win comes at an especially critical time given the Covid-19 pandemic and a Supreme Court hostile to abortion access.

The ROE Act provisions are now law in Massachusetts, thanks in large part to the tireless efforts by local advocates, including NIRH’s partner NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, who worked tirelessly for two years to protect and expand abortion access by passing the ROE Act. Reproductive freedom champions in the Massachusetts legislature refused to stand down after Governor Baker twice vetoed provisions to protect and expand abortion access, instead standing up for their constituents.

“This is a huge win for the people of Massachusetts and those who might travel there for care, and a great testament to the power of advocacy to expand abortion access,” said Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health. “We were extremely gratified to work in partnership with NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts to bring this legislation over the finish line to ensure more people have access to the abortion care they need. And of course, we are absolutely thrilled that members of the Massachusetts legislature used their procedural power to override Governor Baker’s callous veto. This is a terrific example of elected officials using their levers of power and their tenacity to truly lead on behalf of their constituents.”

This legislation expands access to abortion by enacting a number of important provisions of the ROE Act into law, including: codifying the right to abortion in state law; improving youth access by allowing 16 and 17 year olds to make their own decisions about abortion care and allowing remote hearings for those under 16 years old (eliminating the need for young people to travel to a courthouse); enabling families to obtain abortion care later in pregnancy in certain cases; repealing criminal penalties for abortion care later in pregnancy; and expanding the scope of practice of advanced practice clinicians to allow them to provide abortion care consistent with their training.

This victory is the latest policy win developing from NIRH’s partnership with NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. In 2017 the organizations worked together to pass the ACCESS (Advancing Contraceptive Coverage and Economic Security in our State) bill, which put in place state-level protections for contraceptive access. In 2018 they passed the NASTY Woman Act, which repealed the commonwealth’s centuries-old criminal abortion law.

“While the fight is long from over, and there is work to be done to ensure that all Bay Staters can make their own health care decisions, this is a moment of relief and of celebration,” Miller said. “NIRH has long focused on proactive policy at the state and local levels specifically to build momentum for the kind of concrete action we saw in Massachusetts today. With state legislative sessions across the country opening in the next few weeks, and a hostile Supreme Court solidified in its opposition to abortion access, we will work with state partners in 2021 to secure even more victories like this one.”

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The National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH) is an advocacy group that works directly with state and local reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations and allied groups to protect and advance access to reproductive healthcare. Our strategy is to go on the offensive to pass laws that safeguard reproductive freedom. NIRH partners with communities to build coalitions, launch campaigns, and successfully advocate for policy change, so the fabric of reproductive freedom is harder to tear apart.